Funding to Marikana miners means 3 800 poor people won’t get funding – legal aid

2013-11-20 15:26

Legal Aid South Africa (Lasa) has been granted leave to appeal the decision that it should pay the legal fees of the wounded and arrested miners at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.

But the appeal is based only on a matter of principle as Lasa has still been ordered to pay the legal fees of the wounded and arrested miners at the commission during its appeal process.

In October, the court ruled that Lasa must make means for the payment of the legal fees of the wounded and arrested miners at the commission.

Lasa representative Advocate Gilbert Marcus argued that the judge had not taken into consideration their budgetary constraints.

“It’s not that there is no money but it’s that the divergence of the money will mean that 3 800 poor and indigent people will not get the funding they require,” said Marcus.

Advocate Dali Mpofu, the legal representative of the wounded and arrested miners, argued that the issue of budgetary constraints was one the court needed to decide upon.

“If government could be allowed to continuously argue budgetary constraints the people’s constitutional rights would never be fulfilled.

“My lord, Legal Aid has been spending millions of rands on the Boeremag trial for 10 years. This is a non-argument. Spending this money is a logical consequence of doing its business,” said Mpofu.

Marcus argued that he understood the judgment ordering Lasa to pay the legal costs of the wounded and arrested to be case-specific.

But this would leave Lasa vulnerable to others who would use the judgment to claim that Lasa had an obligation to pay their fees in future.

“These arguments can be used in cases like the Moloto accident ... or the building that collapsed in Tongaat yesterday. This is the first instance involving a court order directing Lasa to provide and these are compelling enough grounds for the court to grant us leave to appeal,” said Marcus.

The court granted Lasa its leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

After the ruling, Mpofu brought an application requesting that though Lasa will appeal they should still provide funding for the representatives of the wounded and arrested.

Lasa did not oppose the application.

The court ordered Lasa to continue paying for the legal fees of the wounded and arrested miners to avoid more hardship for the respondents and because there was a possibility that the commission would have completed its work by the time the appeal was concluded.

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