Funding tussle halts Marikana commission

2013-07-22 21:06
Judge Ian Farlam (Picture: AFP)

Judge Ian Farlam (Picture: AFP)

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Pretoria - The Farlam Commission of Inquiry was adjourned on Monday for negotiations about funding for the lawyers representing the wounded and arrested Marikana miners.

The commission's chairperson, retired Judge Ian Farlam, said the public hearings would resume at the Tshwane Council Chambers in Centurion on Thursday.

"Under the circumstances, we consider it appropriate to let the matter stand down until Thursday. There is a reasonable possibility that interim funding may be obtained for the fees of the [lawyers for the] injured and arrested persons," he said.

His ruling followed a lengthy debate, arising from an application brought on Monday by advocate Dali Mpofu, for the miners, seeking a postponement of the public hearings until 19 August.

Mpofu said he wanted time to approach the Constitutional Court in his quest to have the State fund the workers' legal representation.

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria turned down his application for funding last week.

"I have said this to the commission and I will say it again now. There is a question of whether we will come back here or not. I have specific instructions to be here to seek this postponement," he said.

"If other people want to come back here on Thursday, they can come back. If their efforts [to raise funding] have borne fruits, we will be back [at the commission] on Friday."

Advocate George Bizos, for the Legal Resources Centre and the Bench Marks Foundation, told the commission there was possibility a certain organisation would want to fund the lawyers’ fees in the interim, while the Constitutional Court appeal process was underway.

Bizos urged the State and the lawyers to "get off their high horses".

"Experience has taught us that potential litigants do ride high horses. That doesn’t mean we don’t attempt to make people get off the high horses," he said.

"I would appeal to both the government and the legal representatives here to get off high horses and really try in the next few days to solve the problem."

Time limit

Bizos said he was not opposed to the lengthy postponed sought by Mpofu, but wanted to ensure continuity of the public hearings if the money was obtained in due course.

"Time is of fundamental essence. People want to know when this is going to end. Having long postponements which may or may not bear fruit is not helpful," he said.

"We have suggested that if something can be done to limit the [postponement] period to Thursday, [this] may make the engine run better."

Evidence leader Advocate Geoff Budlender, agreed with a suggestion to deal with Mpofu’s request for a postponement on Thursday. He said the application for the lengthy postponement would be dealt with if funds were not raised in the meantime.

"The applicants should proceed with their application to the Constitutional Court. The best way to create space for an interim solution is to stand the matter down until Thursday," he said.

"Efforts being made [to raise funds] can be pursued and then the commission will only deal on Thursday with whether a postponement will be necessary in the absence of interim funding."

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, for the families of the miners killed in Marikana, supported Mpofu's postponement application. He would be part of the Constitutional Court appeal process.

On 21 June, Mpofu told the commission it could be his last day representing the miners because of financial constraints.

He then brought the urgent high court application asking for President Jacob Zuma and Justice Minister Jeff Radebe to approve payment for the mineworkers' legal team.

- SAPA
Read more on:    jeff radebe  |  dumisa ntsebeza  |  ian farlam  |  george bizos  |  jacob zuma  |  geoff budlender  |  dali mpofu  |  marikana inquiry
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