Marikana funding: Legal Aid to appeal

By Drum Digital
05 November 2013

Legal Aid SA will challenge a court ruling compelling it to fund the legal representation of injured and arrested Marikana miners.

Legal Aid SA will challenge a court ruling compelling it to fund the legal representation of injured and arrested Marikana miners, CEO Vidhu Vedalankar said on Tuesday.

"We stand by our view that the judgment will have an effect on the sustainability of the organisation in providing access to justice in criminal and civil legal aid matters for the poor and vulnerable."

Vedalankar said the organisation had been advised that the legal team representing the miners at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry would make an application for an order compelling it to comply with the high court's order.

Legal Aid SA would not oppose the order to fund the miners pending the finalisation of the appeal process, she said.

In October, Vedalankar told Parliament Legal Aid SA would need R17 million to honour the court's judgment.

"The new total of our exposure in Marikana is R17m if we take into account the judgment," Vedalankar told Parliament's portfolio committee on justice.

On October 14, Judge Tati Makgoka of the High Court in Pretoria set aside Legal Aid SA's refusal to pay for representation for miners.

He ordered it to take immediate steps to provide legal funding for their participation before the commission, and also to pay their costs.

Vedalankar said that so far Legal Aid SA had spent R2m representing the families of the miners who died last year when police opened fire on striking workers at the platinum mine.

The required amount of R17m would cover the extended representation until the end of the current financial year, she said.

The organisation would have to scale back on its support to others who needed legal representation, because it did not have the additional funding for Marikana in its R1.4 billion budget.

"We don't have that money, so we will have to cut back on some of the other items."

It was briefing the committee on its annual report.

The inquiry is investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 44 people during strike-related unrest at Lonmin Platinum's operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in North West last year.

The police shot dead 34 people, mostly striking workers, wounded 70, and arrested 250 on August 16, 2012.

In the preceding week, 10 people died, including two policemen and two security guards.

-by Sapa

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