Legal Aid SA to appeal Marikana funding ruling

2013-11-05 12:23

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Legal Aid South Africa (Lasa) will appeal the decision to provide funding for the wounded and arrested miners at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.

Its court papers were filed yesterday.

Last month, Judge Tati Makgoka of the South Gauteng High Court ruled that Lasa should immediately take steps to provide funding for the wounded and arrested miners.

This was the third bid by Advocate Dali Mpofu, the representative of the wounded and arrested miners at the commission, to secure funding for his team.

Lasa is requesting the Supreme Court of Appeal to set aside the decision, which has “negatively impacted on the organisation’s budget”.

The appeal annexure states that Judge Mokgoka had mistakenly found that the:

» Commission had taken on an adversarial nature;

» The miners’ inability to fund their own independent legal team effectively meant their exclusion from the inquiry;

» Section 34 of the Constitution is not applicable to the dispute regarding the funding; and

» The decision by Lasa, to provide funding for the families of the deceased and not the wounded and arrested miners, violated the Constitution in that it differentiated between people or categories of people in a manner that bore no rational connection to a legitimate governmental purpose.

Lasa argues that Mokgoka did not take the financial position of the board into consideration when granting the application.

“We have lobbied for funding from Parliament because our budget had already been cut and now we have been ordered to provide funding to the commission too. This will negatively affect the vulnerable groups who need the funding the most,” said Lasa spokesperson Mpho Phasa.

“We are in continuous talks with the representatives of the miners. At this time no funding has been provided yet but I know they [Mpofu] will apply for an order to compel us to fund them during this process of appeal. We won’t refuse that request,” Phasa said.

Andries Nkome, speaking on behalf of the miners’ legal team, said that the appeal had been discussed with Lasa and that it was based on a matter of principle.

“We discussed this and they agreed that they would appeal solely as a matter of principle as they did not want the judgement to create a precedent that people had a right to legal representation in a commission at the state’s expense.

“The appeal would not affect the payments due to us,” he said.

Today, the commission resumed with Mpofu’s cross-examination of the police’s Colonel Duncan Scott.

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