High court: State must pay Marikana miners’ legal fees

2013-10-14 11:53

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The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg has ruled that the state must pay the legal fees of miners wounded and arrested during the Marikana shootings last year.

The ruling follows the ongoing fight between the miners and their lawyer, Dali Mpofu, and the state over their representation before the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, which is investigating the deaths of 44 people at Lonmin Platinum’s mining operations in Marikana, North West.

Just after Judge Tati Makgoba delivered his ruling today, the packed court room clapped loudly as the widows of the miners shot dead by police at Marikana heaved a sigh of relief.

“The truth about my husband’s death will finally come out,” said one widow as she left the court room.

Mpofu said it was a huge relief for the applicants, the families of the dead miners and all supportive parties.

“This is a very important decision for the country. There is a higher likelihood now to obtain the truth and not a skewed kind of truth,” he said.

“We can now say that there is hope that the outcome of the commission will at least satisfy the victims and the international community as all eyes are on us now.”

Mpofu said they will now sit with the legal aid board as this was the entity which the court ruled should make the funds available.

“My prediction is that we’ll be back at the commission tomorrow and parallel to that we will have the discussions with the legal aid board. But we still need to go through the judgment thoroughly and consult with our clients,” he said.

Mpofu also added that it was up to the respondents, the department of justice and the presidency, if they wanted to appeal the decision.

“They have always said they are sympathetic to the miners but there was no legal framework for them to provide this funding. Now there is, it’s called a court order. If they are indeed sympathetic as they claimed, there is no reason for them to appeal,” said Mpofu.

Mziwoxolo Magidiwane, a wounded miner and the case’s first applicant, said he was relieved and that the ruling meant the country will know what happened to them on August 16 last year.

“At least now we will finally get to the truth of whether or not we were wrong by going to the koppie, asking for what we deserve. The judge today said we are not dogs. We are human beings who have rights,” Magidiwane said.

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