File picture - Policemen keep watch on the protesters outside a South African mine in Rustenburg, 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, August 16, 2012. South African police opened fire against thousands of striking miners armed with machetes and sticks at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine, leaving several bloodied corpses lying on the ground. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Rustenburg -

Preparations for a commission of inquiry into the death of 44 people at Lonmin's Marikana mine, in North West, have started, the justice department said on Thursday.

Spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said the department was working tirelessly to identify suitable office accommodation for the commission.

Its terms of reference would be gazetted on Friday.

“The process of appointing evidence leaders and investigators as well as decisions on the venue for the hearing will be finalised within the period of 14 days,” Mhaga said.

Also to be finalised were the powers of the commission, the admissibility of evidence, and the exercise of the powers of search and seizure.

Other factors under consideration include access to the venue, assistance with the taking of statements and language dynamics.

Once the venue was finalised, the starting date of the inquiry would be announced, Mhaga said.

Thirty-four people were killed and 78 were wounded when police opened fire on a group of protesters gathered on a hilltop near the mine two weeks ago. Ten people, including two policemen and two security guards, died in the week leading up to the shooting.

President Jacob Zuma has set up a commission of inquiry to investigate all the stakeholders involved in the killings.

It will be chaired by retired Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Ian Farlam.

Mhaga said the commission's support would be appointed from state departments and institutions. - Sapa