Retired judge Ian Farlam speaks as the judicial commission of inquiry into the shootings at Lonmin's Marikana mine gets underway in Rustenburg, October 1, 2012.
Retired judge Ian Farlam speaks as the judicial commission of inquiry into the shootings at Lonmin's Marikana mine gets underway in Rustenburg, October 1, 2012.

A South African judicial commission has launched an investigation into the police killing of 34 striking mineworkers.

South Africa's Mining Industry

The three-member panel was due to visit the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana township, where the deadly shooting took place August 16.

The commission, headed by retired Judge Ian Farlam, began its work with a public hearing in Rustenburg on Monday.  The investigation is expected to last about four months.

The commission will look into the role of different parties in the violence, including police, the striking mineworkers, mineworkers' unions and Lonmin platinum.

A total of 45 people were killed during a violent five-week strike at the mine over a pay dispute.

The workers eventually won a 22 percent pay increase -- a development that triggered new strikes last week, as other mineworkers demanded wage hikes.

President Jacob Zuma appointed the inquiry panel in August.

Human Rights Watch urged the government to conduct a broader, independent inquiry to ensure the panel's findings are unbiased.