To some of us, it came as the best news when our President Jacob "Mfo Ka Msholozi" Zuma, declared he was going to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the Marikana massacre. The wit in me was proud of the President's move. I reckoned past Commissions like Harms Commission, Ginwala Commission which declared Menzi Simelane not fit and proper, thanks to that legal eagle named Wim Trengove SC and The Arms Deal Commission.
The President's actions gave meaning to the fact that all law in South Africa is subject to the principle of reasonableness and that those with rights must exercise them in a civilised and considerate manner. Just to enlighten you, The President is empowered in terms of Section 84(2)(f) of the Constitution to appoint Commissions of Inquiry. Although the section is quite when it comes to legal funding, a noble step was taken to get to the bottom of the despicable actions by our Police force.
It was a proud moment for me because the President was doing something right, justifiable and honourable.
Section 3 of the Commissions Act 8 of 1947 specifically states that such an official commission shall have the same powers as the High Court. These powers include the power to summon witnesses, to take evidence from witnesses under oath, to examine such witnesses, and to call for the production of books, recorded video footages, e-mail transcripts, documents and other objects.
Such a commission is also protected by the same kind of rules that apply to a judge when it comes to contempt of court. Given the nature of Commissions as explained above, common sense would at least tell you that you need a lawyer if you are required to partake in such proceedings, which is the subject of debate when speaking about what is now termed the Marikana Commission.
You need someone skilled with the tenacity to stick rigorously to the truth, who will avoid all arguments and strictly stick to facts, someone who would be an honest guide, a good evidence leader and cross-examiner, but the families of the deceased and the injured miners presently have none.
I indicated that Section 84(2)(f) is quiet when it comes to funding of Commissions, but a fact ignored by the powers that may be is that, all the families of the miners are left to fend for themselves in what is now difficult conditions. Mind you, they find themselves in this position because the deceased thought enough is enough with the poor working conditions they were subjected to, the peanuts they were earning as a living and the dilapidated shacks they called home.
The most probable thing would have been to provide legal funding for the families, rather than subjecting them to the ill-treatment after misery that was inflicted to them by a state body, not because it was the right thing to do, but because it would have shown compassion, humility and as a gesture that they didn't deserve all that befell them. The failure by government and our President to provide funding for the families is detrimental to the Commission. The rationale for the establishment of the Commission is defeated by the fact that the families and the miners cannot tell their side of the story.
They are party to the Commission and ignoring them would only lead to the Commission not realising its sole mandate which I assume is to investigate all alleged violations of their human rights, to establish facts and circumstances that led to the violations, where possible identify those responsible with a view to ensuring the perpetrators are brought to book, to preserve the evidence of crimes for possible future criminal prosecutions or future justice process, with a view to hold to account those responsible.
To the President and Minister of Constitutional Development, South Africans are to a large extend good, honest, intelligent, decent and fair minded people. Therefore, get on the right side of the issue, a side that helps society. Disarm your enemies by doing what is right under the circumstances by providing the families with legal funding. The primary purpose of the Commission was to find, recognize, interpret and preserve the truth, don't join issue against it. As a nation, we subconsciously made you the guardian of our morals, as inconspicuously as possible you should assume this responsibility.
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