Marikana families want to attend inquiry

By Drum Digital
29 October 2012

The families of the victims of the Marikana killings want to attend the Farlam Commission of Inquiry and need funds to travel, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri) said on Sunday.

"They want to know the truth about what happened to their loved ones on 16 August. They want the opportunity to see the evidence unfold," Seri said in a statement.

"They particularly want to see and hear for themselves what the police have to say about their conduct."

Seri has been instructed to represent the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and 21 families of people who were killed by the police on August 16, at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry.

The department of justice said on Saturday, it would no longer provide funding for the families to attend the commission hearings in Rustenburg.

The organisation said it was "shocked and appalled" at the decision by the department of justice to suspend the funding.

"The decision was taken without prior notice or consultation. Our clients are distraught,"

In its statement on Saturday, the department of justice said that some of the families of victims said they would rather have the travel money paid to them directly as they were struggling due to the loss of their breadwinners.

Seri said this was "grossly misleading" and denied that their clients had told the department they did not want to travel to the hearings.

"They very much wish to do so. They are deeply upset that the Department has, at the eleventh hour, decided that they will not be assisted to attend the Commission's hearings when it reconvenes on Oct 29," the organisation said.

Seri said the suggestion by the department that the families were choosing between travel funding or financial assistance for daily necessities was also misleading.

"The truth is that the Department of Justice is not willing to assist our clients at all - either to attend the Commission, or to feed their families," the organisation said.

"Its decision to withdraw its support is immoral and, in our view, unlawful."

The department had helped pay the travel costs of the families to attend the first session of the inquiry but financing further attendance would be left to the families themselves.

Many of the families of victims are not from North West but other provinces such as the Eastern Cape.

"The attendance of the first session of the commission was mainly based on humanitarian basis as it is important that they understand the primary purpose of the inquiry," said department of justice spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said.

"Further attendance of the inquiry would be left to the choice of the families themselves."

He said the department could not continue funding the travel of family members to attend the commission because it had no legislative basis.

If family members were called as witnesses to the commission, their travel expenses would be covered.

-by Sapa

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