9 May 2013
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John Capel of the Bench Marks Foundation talks about the efforts of his organisation to widen the scope of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry (also known as the Farlam Commission), such that the investigation goes beyond and behind the killings of the 34 striking mineworkers, which shocked the world last year, to the socio-economic root causes of the strikes in the Rustenburg mining belt.
A study by the Bench Marks Foundation, first released in 2007 and later updated in 2011, shows huge disparities between what mining companies are saying about their investments into communities and what is actually being developed.
The Foundation's research reveals communities in the Rustenburg mining belt living in a toxic soup of waters poisoned by sulphur dioxide spills and high levels of emissions let out into the air. The health burden this places onto an already impoverished community pushes them to breaking point.
Add to this cracked houses from blast mining, high HIV statistics, respiratory diseases and massive social problems related to a migrant labour system that harks back to the apartheid era, which directly contradict the slick social responsibility advertorials and reports sent out by the mining companies.
Capel is hopeful that with the right pressure, the Farlam Commission will investigate these disparities and force corporate accountability.