South Africa 10.11.2014 01:54 pm

Farlam Inquiry can’t make a finding on housing – Lonmin

FILE PIC: Retired Judge Ian Farlam. Picture: Christine Vermooten

FILE PIC: Retired Judge Ian Farlam. Picture: Christine Vermooten

The Farlam Commission of Inquiry cannot make a meaningful finding regarding housing at Lonmin’s Marikana mine and should not report unfairly on the company, the commission heard on Monday.

“We’re not confident that you can make a meaningful representation to the president on the existing evidence,” Schalk Burger, for Lonmin, told the commission during his final arguments.

Burger referred to clause 1.5 which was deleted from the commission’s terms of reference earlier this year.

The clause required it to investigate the local, provincial, and national governments’ roles in the August 2012 violent strike at Lonmin’s platinum mining operations at Marikana, North West.

Burger quoted from a report by the commission’s senior researcher Dr Kally Forrest, which said: “Lonmin cannot be held solely responsible for the deplorable state of housing in which the migrant workforce resides… it is primarily government responsibility.”

Burger agreed with her conclusion that investigating Lonmin’s role in housing without taking the government’s role into account would result in a “one-sided picture”.

Burger agreed and said the commission should not make a recommendation on Lonmin’s housing in isolation.

“You criticise housing of Lonmin theoretically, but you do not look at the source of the problem… migrant labour. You have a problem here which is inextricably linked with the local, provincial, and national department of housing.”

He conceded, however, that the housing situation at Lonmin was “inexcusable and cannot go on”.

Despite the deletion of clause 1.5, Forrest would still compile a comprehensive report, although the commissioners would not be required to include it in their report.

They would, however, be asked to forward Forrest’s report to the president, Burger said.

He said housing should form part of a separate inquiry.

“Migrant labour and collective bargaining should all be part of that inquiry,” he said.

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people at Marikana in the strike-related unrest in August 2012.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police on August 16, 2012.

More than 70 people were wounded and more than 200 were arrested. The police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed.

Sapa

 

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