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Call to expedite Marikana inquiry

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Judge Ian Farlam. File photo: Oupa Mokoena

Johannesburg - The Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of 44 people during unrest at Lonmin's Marikana mines needs to be speedily completed, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Monday.

Spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said in a statement that the union remembered those who died at Marikana, near Rustenburg, in the North West, in August 2012.

“In their name we renew the calls for the Farlam Commission to expedite its inquiry so that justice is not delayed.”

The commission is expected to complete its investigation, including gathering evidence and concluding the public hearings, by April 30.

“Without pre-empting the outcomes of the commission we believe that justice to all those affected is the best memorial which could offer... closure to the families of the deceased.”

The union called for workers engaging in industrial action to be disciplined and avoid violence in future.

“We call on all stakeholders to respect the freedom of association, and for the right to life to be respected and protected by all workers, unions, the employer, and government.”

“NUM shall continue to support workers' right to fight poverty wages and appalling working and living conditions using all organisationally viable means and legal avenues, including strikes, to advance shop-floor struggles.

“Killing, intimidating, and displacing fellow workers does not advance this cause. These are only characteristics of vigilante unionism which does not safeguard our demands or weaken the employer.”

The union reiterated it would welcome and support any workers who had left the NUM and wished to re-join it.

Union rivalry between the NUM and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has been cited as a contributing factor to the violence at Marikana. Several violent deaths in the area following the 2012 Lonmin strike have been blamed on rivalry between the unions.

Amcu was formed in Mpumalanga in 1998 as a breakaway faction of the NUM. It was formally registered as a union in 2001.

In August last year, Lonmin signed an agreement with Amcu, recognising it as the company's majority trade union. The agreement set a threshold of a 30 percent membership for any trade union to be recognised by the company. Membership of the NUM, which was formerly the majority union at Lonmin, had dropped to 20 percent of Lonmin's workforce by then.

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