Cost of a massacre

2013-08-25 14:00

Refusal to pay Marikana miners’ legal fees is the ANC’s way of dealing with the thorn in its side

Thami Tiki, Polokwane

It is heartbreaking to note that this ANC-led government is refusing to fund the legal costs of the lawyers at the Farlam commission representing the families of the deceased at Marikana as well as those who were injured.

On August 16, people were preaching peace and reconciliation to commemorate the Marikana massacre at the hands of the brutal South African police force.

What peace when no one wants to take responsibility and act accordingly for the loss of those 44 souls? When are the families of those who died and were wounded going to reach closure following the unfortunate events of August 2012?

For Justice Minister Jeff Radebe to say the refusal to fund the lawyers of the Marikana victims is due to budgetary constraints and the government is not liable to fund the legal fees of those who are not employees of the state is just pure hogwash.

The Marikana massacre is a national and international concern, and I therefore strongly believe government should carry the matter on its shoulders to its conclusion.

I really feel pity for the families of the victims and those injured because they clearly can’t pay the costs of their lawyers while Lonmin and the SA Police Service have all the financial muscle to pay for the best lawyers in the country.

Having said that, I smell a rat in this whole saga.

Therefore, there are two points I want to highlight:

» Firstly, prior to the shootings, Cyril Ramaphosa, a senior ANC member, sent dubious emails to Lonmin mine management and government ministries describing the protesters’ behaviour at Marikana as “plainly dastardly criminal” and requiring “concomitant action”. This could have sparked the incidents on

the day.

» Secondly, I suspect some of the reasons that might influence the government’s refusal to fund the Lonmin mine workers’ legal representation is merely to deal with and purge the leading lawyer representing the mine workers, Advocate Dali Mpofu, as he has always been a thorn in the ANC’s side.

Remember that this is the man unceremoniously removed as the SABC boss after he openly criticised and suspended Snuki Zikalala, the former managing director of news and current affairs at the SABC, who was known to be pro-ANC and thus lenient and soft in the reporting on the ANC’s ills.

Mpofu is the very man who convened the disciplinary committee that will determine if there are grounds to charge Zuma’s controversial friend, Atul Gupta, for bringing the ANC and the government into disrepute after the unauthorised landing of the Gupta family jet at Waterkloof Air Force Base.

This is the very man who vocally declared that Julius Malema had a bright future in politics and represented the then ANC Youth League leader during his ANC disciplinary hearing in 2011 before Juju was booted out of the ANC.

Is this not enough to suggest that the ANC might be engaging in tactical games and playing one man here at the expense of hurting, bleeding and grieving families?

The wounds of the bereaved families, those who were arrested and wounded, will never heal as long as the processes of the Marikana commission are not concluded in an accountable manner. It’s a shame indeed.

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