2 minute read
11 Nov 2014
12:01 pm

Establish restoration fund – lawyer tells Farlam Commission

A restoration fund should be established for the families affected by the shooting at Marikana in August 2012, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Tuesday.

FILE PICTURE: Retired Judge Ian Farlam, chairman of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry of Lonmin's Marikana mine violence, is seen during a break in proceedings in Pretoria on Monday, 14 July 2014. More than 70 were wounded, and another 250 arrested at the company's platinum mining operations in Marikana, near Rustenburg. The commission is investigating the 44 deaths during the strike-related violence. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

“Marikana is a test of constitutional values of the country,” said Tshepiso Ramphele, for two Lonmin security officers and one of the non-striking miners killed, allegedly by strikers, during the violent unprotected strike.

“This commission has to also look at restoration.”

All the stakeholders, including labour unions and Lonmin, needed to make sure that the community in Marikana, near Rustenburg in the North West, was not left carrying the legacy of the strike and the shootings.

“Life has been life and our constitutional values say that we must try to have communities that live together, including with the employer,” said Ramphele.

“We believe if that fund is created we will be able to go beyond this commission with the confidence that we will not have another Marikana.”

Earlier, Ramphele submitted that in sending their employees to deal with around 3000 striking miners, Lonmin had weighed up the cost the 2012 platinum strike against the lives of their employees.

“In a commercial setting how much is a risk to the right to life?” he asked.

“If one looks at the damages one has to pay in… because we [Lonmin] are going to lose R2 billion, we have a very reasonable consideration that says we can forgo R200,000 and we can forgo a number of R200,000s otherwise we lose R2bn.”

The R200,000 represented the compensation Lonmin would pay to employees and their families incapacitated or killed on the job, Ramphele said.

“It cannot be a consideration that is justified to risk the right to life,” he said.

“I think the issue of taking the right to life against containing the right to life was not considered.

The test is when you send the employee out, did you take reasonable steps? Did they [Lonmin] actually take reasonable care to make sure [slain security officer Frans] Mabelane’s life was not in danger?”

It was the employer’s obligation to investigate the degree of danger in which they put their employee.

“If you knowingly put your employee in a situation of that nature, then we don’t judge the employee and I think case laws in Europe and other international jurisdictions have judged, [that] the employer must investigate the extent of the danger,” said Ramphele.

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people at Lonmin’s platinum mining operations in Marikana in 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 the two Lonmin security guards, were killed.