Farlam in last ditch bid for miners’ legal costs

2013-09-15 14:00

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Judge Ian Farlam and a delegation from the Marikana Commission went, caps in hand, to ask President Jacob Zuma to cover miners’ legal costs.

Lawyers’ fees have been a bone of contention for most of this year, as Advocate Dali Mpofu, for the miners, has tried to get the state to cover his expenses.

Mpofu even took the matter to court – and it was in July while his application was ­being considered by the North Gauteng High Court that Farlam and other ­commission officials went to Zuma.

Mpofu was turned down at both the high court and later the Constitutional Court.

City Press has learnt that there were several meetings between commission officials and government departments while Mpofu’s case was ongoing.

Towards the end of July and into the beginning of August, the commission was postponed several times – because, Judge Farlam told those present the commission was in talks with an ­“anonymous donor”.

It is not clear whether Zuma and the state were this “donor”, but City Press has learnt that Farlam met with Zuma and the department of justice during this time.

The talks, though, ended in a stalemate. In August, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe publicly announced that funding had been considered, but the government had decided against it.

Days later, Farlam said at the commission that discussions with the “anonymous donor” had “proved fruitless”.

Contacted for comment, Farlam referred City Press to the commission’s spokesperson, Tshepo Mahlangu.

Mahlangu would not confirm the meeting with Zuma, saying only that the “battle for funds” was between government and lawyers, and that the commission had to continue with its work.

“The commission is still the only vehicle available to get to the truth of what happened in the days leading up to August 16,” said Mahlangu.

Zuma’s spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, would not comment on the matter, ­referring it to the justice department.

Justice department spokesperson ­Mthunzi Mhaga said the department was not aware of such a meeting.

The families of the 34 miners who were shot dead at Lonmin’s Marikana mine on August 16 2012 this week took to the streets of Pretoria to vent their frustrations.

Wounded miners, and some who were arrested on that fateful day, joined the march to the Union Buildings, where they handed over a memorandum ­asking the presidency to pay their legal bills at the commission.?

Widow Nosakhe Nokhamba said she wanted to get closure so her life could carry on.

“Can the president just pay so we can finally find out what will happen to us?”

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