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Marikana mine shootings inquiry delayed

  • A South African inquiry into the deaths of 44 people, which includes 34 miners shot dead by police, has been postponed in order to allow lawyers to consult their clients.

    A lawyer for some families said not all of the dead had been buried and he had not yet spoken to the relatives.

    Commissioners have already visited the site of the killings near the Lonmin-owned platinum mine in Marikana in Rustenburg, some 60 miles northwest of Johannesburg.

    In total, 270 miners have been charged with the murder of their own colleagues under the apartheid-era "common purpose doctrine" law.

    The incident on 16 August marked the most deadly police action in South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994.

    Police opened fire after they failed to disperse some 3,000 strikers armed with clubs and machetes at the mine.

    The miners had gathered for a pay rise of more than $1,000 a month. It is not yet clear what led police to open fire but eyewitness reports suggest the shooting occurred after a group of protesters rushed towards the police officers.

    The mine has been at the center of a violent pay dispute, spurred by tensions between two rival trade unions.

    The judicial commission of inquiry was set up by President Jacob Zuma soon after the shootings to looking into the roles played by the police, Lonmin, the unions and the government.

    The commission will complete its analysis within four months and submit a final report within a month of finishing its investigation.