23 July 2013

South Africa: Marikana Funding Tussle Regretted

The Constitutional Court has dismissed Advocate Dali Mpofu's appeal to compel the state to fund the mineworkers' legal representation at the Farlam ... ( Resource: The Marikana Funding Crisis )

Pretoria — The onus for a credible Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the Marikana shootings lies on the government, the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution (Casac) said on Monday.

President Jacob Zuma and Justice Minister Jeff Radebe should ensure that the injured and arrested mineworkers had adequate funds for their continued participation at the commission, Casac chairman Sipho Pityana said in a statement.

"It is regrettable that this issue of funding for legal representation has ended up in the courts," he said.

"The primary responsibility rests with government to ensure that the commission it appointed is able to discharge its mandate, and this must include hearing all parties involved."

Pityana said failure by the state to provide funding to the mineworkers was in contrast with efforts to stabilise the volatile mining sector.

"The framework agreement for a sustainable mining industry, championed by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, is premised on an inclusive approach that seeks to ensure that all stakeholders contribute towards a stable environment in the mining sector," he said.

"This cannot be achieved if some people are effectively excluded from participating in the Farlam Commission of Inquiry."

Pityana said the commission's integrity should be protected, and it should be able to hear from all those affected by last year's events at Marikana.

On Monday, the commission adjourned for negotiations about funding for the lawyers representing the wounded and arrested Marikana miners.

The commission's chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, said the public hearings would resume at the Tshwane Council Chambers in Centurion on Thursday.

"Under the circumstances, we consider it appropriate to let the matter stand down until Thursday. There is a reasonable possibility that interim funding may be obtained for the fees of the [lawyers for the] injured and arrested persons," he said.

His ruling followed a lengthy debate, arising from an application brought on Monday by advocate Dali Mpofu, for the miners, seeking a postponement of the public hearings until August 19.

Mpofu said he wanted time to approach the Constitutional Court in his quest to have the state fund the workers' legal representation.

The High Court in Pretoria turned down his application for funding last week.

"I have said this to the commission and I will say it again now. There is a question of whether we will come back here or not. I have specific instructions to be here to seek this postponement," he said.

"If other people want to come back here on Thursday, they can come back.

If their efforts [to raise funding] have borne fruits, we will be back [at the commission] on Friday."

George Bizos SC, for the Legal Resources Centre and the Bench Marks Foundation, told the commission there was a possibility a certain organisation would want to fund the lawyers' fees in the interim, while the Constitutional Court appeal process was underway.

Bizos said he was not opposed to the lengthy postponement sought by Mpofu, but wanted to ensure continuity of the public hearings if the money was obtained in due course.

Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, for the families of the miners killed in Marikana, supported Mpofu's postponement application. He would be part of the Constitutional Court appeal process.

On June 21, Mpofu told the commission it could be his last day representing the miners because of financial constraints.

He then brought the urgent high court application asking for Zuma and Radebe to approve payment for the mineworkers' legal team.

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