Resolve Marikana funding - SAHRC

2013-07-23 22:43
(File: Sapa)

(File: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Tuesday called on government to find a speedy solution in getting funding for lawyers representing people at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry.

Spokesperson Isaac Mangena said while the court had determined that neither the state nor Legal Aid Board was obliged to pay for the legal representation of those injured and arrested, the presidency, department of justice and the board had the discretion to do so.

"The presidency, the department of justice, and the Legal Aid Board should urgently consider exercising that discretion to allow the work of the commission to continue in an inclusive, responsive manner," Mangena said.

Not doing so would exclude those most affected by the Marikana shooting from the inquiry.

"Their exclusion hampers the ability of the commission to fulfil its terms of reference."

About 300 miners wounded in or arrested after last year's Marikana shooting had so far failed to get state funding for their legal representation in the commission.

Government had so far spent about R6.7m on legal representation for police.

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people killed during strike-related unrest at Lonmin's mine at Marikana, North West, in August.

Police shot dead 34 mineworkers on 16 August. Ten people, including two police officers, were killed in the preceding week.

Dali Mpofu, representing the wounded and arrested miners, is trying to get government to pay his team's fees.

Obtaining funds

On Monday, commission chairperson, retired Judge Ian Farlam, said there was a reasonable possibility that interim funding could be obtained for the lawyers.

Mpofu asked that the commission be postponed until 19 August, as he wanted to approach the Constitutional Court in his quest to for state funding.

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria turned down his application for funding last week. Mpofu has the support of other lawyers taking part in the commission.

The commission would resume on Thursday, when Farlam was expected to decide whether to grant the lengthy postponement.

Mangena said government and all parties involved should use the break to find a funding solution.

Earlier, United Democratic Movement (UDM) Secretary General Bongani Msomi expressed concern over what he described as imbalances in funding for the commission.

"Without funding for the miners, the grounds will remain uneven, and there will be no objectivity nor credibility of the outcome of the Farlam Commission."

He called on institutions such as the Legal Aid Board to help.

- SAPA
Read more on:    sahrc  |  udm  |  ian farlam  |  dali mpofu  |  marikana inquiry
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