Zuma sets up judicial probe into the killings

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 August, 2012, 4:04am

South African President Jacob Zuma has appointed a judicial commission to probe the killing of 34 Lonmin workers by police as government officials left a memorial service after it was disrupted by chanting unionists.

The commission of inquiry will be chaired by Ian Farlam, a retired Supreme Court of Appeal judge, Zuma told reporters yesterday in Pretoria, the capital.

"The commission shall complete its work within a period of four months and must submit its final report within a month" of finishing its investigation, Zuma said.

Yesterday's memorial was disrupted after Julius Malema, the expelled president of the youth league of the ruling African National Congress, told the crowd that Zuma's government was responsible for the deaths. Demonstrators who were wearing Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union T-shirts marched in front of the stage chanting and carrying traditional fighting sticks.

Government officials including Nathi Mthethwa, the country's police minister, then left before proceedings were complete.

"It is Jacob's Zuma's government that is responsible for killing our people," Malema told the mourners.

About 6,000 people attended the memorial service at Marikana, where groups of crying family members of those killed performed burial rituals in the field where the miners were shot.