Legal Aid explains Marikana appeal

2013-11-25 14:19
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Paying the legal fees of Marikana miners will have far reaching consequences on Legal Aid SA's sustainability, the organisation said on Monday.

"We believe that this judgment has to be appealed as the order was made despite absence of evidence as to the costs that would be entailed by such order," CEO Vidhu Vedalankar said in a statement.

"More importantly, [it has to be appealed because of] the impact of such order on the finite resources of Legal Aid SA."

The order would also have an effect on Legal Aid SA's ability to meet its statutory and constitutional duties, she said.

Legal Aid SA was granted leave to appeal on Wednesday.

On 14 October, Judge Tati Makgoka of the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria set aside Legal Aid SA's refusal to pay for representation for miners.

He ordered it to take immediate steps to provide legal funding for their participation before the commission, and also to pay their costs.

The same month Vedalankar told Parliament that Legal Aid SA would need R17m to honour the court's judgment.

On Monday, Vedalankar said the order "fundamentally trespasses" on the separation of powers.

"In effect, the court has not only changed the priorities set by Legal Aid SA but has also fundamentally interfered with its budget, thereby impacting on its ability to provide legal representation to persons who will have their rights finally determined by a court of law without any legal representation.

"Despite seeking to limit the impact of this order to the specific circumstances of Marikana, it has the import of potentially opening the door to many other interested parties to make out a special case for legal representation and this will not be sustainable for the organisation especially taking into account current commissions alone," she said.

Resources

The Constitutional Court had indicated that courts should not direct the executive arm of the state on how to use resources.

Legal Aid SA felt that the criteria set in the order had the potential of instructing it on how to use its funds.

Last week, a lawyer for the miners, Musi Msimang, said the appeal would not affect the Farlam Commission of Inquiry if it was brought before the Supreme Court of Appeal after the commission had completed its work.

The commission is investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 44 people during strike-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mine at Marikana, near Rustenburg, in North West.

Police shot dead 34 people, mostly striking mineworkers, wounded 70 and arrested 250 at Marikana on 16 August 2012.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed.

The commission is expected to complete its hearings by 30 April.

Read more on:    marikana inquiry

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