Lawyers for Marikana families pull out of inquiry

2013-07-16 16:55

Lawyers for families of miners killed in Marikana, North West, last year, have provisionally pulled out of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry’s proceedings.

Nicole Lewis, who represents the families at the commission, announced after a lunch adjournment today that the families were acting in solidarity with the group of mine workers who were wounded and arrested on August 16.

“The family members have given instructions for us to place on record. They feel very uncomfortable participating as long as the miners who were injured and arrested aren’t present or at the very least (if) their position is clear,” she said.

“As things stand at the moment, they have a very strong feeling that they do not wish to participate further (at the commission). We will take further instructions from them tomorrow.”

Lewis said the families’ final decision would be announced on Thursday.

“Until that time, the family members won’t be participating. I have to ask the commission to excuse me.”

Commission chairman, retired Judge Ian Farlam, asked Lewis whether the families had instructed her to sit in and not participate, or to leave the hearings.

Lewis replied she had been told to leave the room.

“Essentially, they don’t want to be present in the commission and they also don’t wish their legal representatives to be present.”

Farlam replied: “It’s a pity, but you will have the transcript, to study it. I am not sure if your clients (can) prevent you from doing that.”

Yesterday, lawyers representing the mine workers wounded and arrested provisionally pulled out of the commission’s proceedings.

Dali Mpofu announced the decision to withdraw, pending a high court in Pretoria ruling on his application for the state to fund the legal team.

“Our instructions (from the mine workers) are to await the judgment and at that point to receive further instructions. In the meantime, we will not be participating for the victims,” he said.

“If we are back later on in the week, we will have the extra burden of catching up with what would have happened (at the commission).”

On June 21, Mpofu told the commission that, due to financial constraints, it could be his last day representing the miners. He then brought the urgent court application seeking funding for representing the mine workers. Mpofu wants President Jacob Zuma and Justice Minister Jeff Radebe to approve payment for the mine workers’ legal team.

The commission is investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of mine workers in strike-related violence in Marikana in August.

Yesterday, Mpofu promised that he would update the commission about his team’s decision, based on the court outcome.

“Irrespective of the outcome, as professionals, we have a duty to come here and brief the commission. We are not going to just disappear,” he said.

Contrary to media reports, the high court ruling could be made “anytime from now”, he said.

The commission is set to resume on Thursday morning.

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