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June 23, 2017

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South Africa gov't opens inquiry into police killing of 34 miners

RUSTENBURG--South Africa on Monday opened an inquiry into the police killing of 34 miners and related violence in August, vowing to uncover how a dispute over pay ended in the country's worst bloodbath since the end of apartheid.

The Marikana Commission of Inquiry, appointed by President Jacob Zuma, began what is expected to be four months of deliberations at Rustenburg Civic Centre, a short distance from the mine where police gunned down striking platinum miners on August 16.

Sitting before a jet-black backdrop, former Supreme Court of Appeal judge Ian Farlam solemnly gaveled in proceedings, which began with a roll call of the dead, a minute's silence and a vow that the truth would be revealed.

"Our country weeps at this tragedy and we owe it to those concerned that we do our work as expeditiously as possible," Farlam said.

The commission has been asked to "investigate matters of public, national and international concern arising out of the tragic incidents at the Lonmin Mine in Marikana."

No police have been charged in relation to the murders, but around 270 protesters and miners were arrested under a colonial and apartheid era "common purpose" doctrine. The charges were later dropped and separate charges against them were delayed.

The commission is to send interim reports to President Zuma once a month. The first report, about events leading up to Aug. 16, is due by Oct. 12.

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