Lonmin questioned on social responsibility

Pretoria - Lonmin management needs to provide answers about its social responsibilities, the lack of which possibly contributed to the strike action that left 44 people dead, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard in Pretoria on Monday.

The commission chair, retired judge Ian Farlam, ruled that the mining company would be questioned on its aborted programmes that included building houses for its mineworkers.

In a bid to avoid the grilling, the company had applied not to be questioned.

The move followed the decision to scrap phase two of the commission's work due to time constraints.

Lonmin was to face these questions during workshops which were part of the commission.

This part of the commission was abandoned and Lonmin argued that it would not have sufficient time to prepare for the questions, which had now been fused into the hearing.

The inquiry is probing the events around the August 2012 strike-related unrest.

In its objection to cross-examination, the platinum mining company argued that social responsibilities were outside the commission's mandate.

It also claimed it would be unfair to be questioned on this during the first phase as it had not had enough time to prepare.

Farlam on Monday rejected the response.

"In our view there is no substance in any of these grounds of objection,"he said.


Meanwhile, the commission on Monday heard evidence from Xolani Nzuza, a mineworker who was part of a group which led the strike.

Xolani told the commission that the unrest occurred because of Lonmin's response to their calls for a meeting with management.

"The cause of all that happened there is because of a lack of care from Lonmin and them calling us criminals," said Nzuza.

"Had they not called us criminals, this would have not happened."

He denied that muti played a crucial role in the unrest.

"Not everybody believed in the muti. Others believed in their prayers," said Nzuza.

He claimed workers used the muti to protect themselves and they believed it would make the mine bosses listen to them.

No one was forced to use the muti and those that did, did so openly.

Nzuza's testimony will be put on hold on Tuesday while Minister of Mineral Resources, Susan Shabangu, testifies.