No state funding for Marikana lawyers

19 July 2013 - 02:37
By Sapa
Proceedings at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. File photo
Image: Gallo Images Proceedings at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. File photo

The Pretoria High Court has dismissed an application for an order that would compel the state to fund legal representation for the victims of the Marikana shootings.

"I agree with the state that the application cannot succeed," Judge Joseph Raulinga said yesterday.

"I need to say that nothing prevents the parties from settling this matter outside the courts."

Dali Mpofu, who has been acting for the wounded and arrested Marikana miners at the hearings of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, brought the application for state funding of the mineworkers' legal team.

Miners and their families packing the courtroom grunted in disapproval when Raulinga made his ruling.

"They [the applicants] say the separation of powers is not implicated in this matter. I disagree," the judge said.

"The duty of determining how public resources are to be drawn upon . lies at the heart of the executive."

He said he could grant the order only if there were proof of unlawfulness, fraud or corruption.

"I do not find any in this case."

It was the prerogative of the executive to decide how to fund commissions, he said.

Mpofu asked the judge when the typescript of the judgment would be available so that he could bring an urgent application in the Constitutional Court.

He said the application was urgent in that it would have implications for the commission.

Raulinga said he would do his best to make sure that the typescript was available "as soon as possible".

On Thursday last week Mpofu told the court the miners who had been wounded and arrested at Marikana last year were entitled to legal representation at the state's expense.

He told the court that the miners' legal team had not received payment between June and October, and that the commission was unlikely to finish its work by its extended deadline of October 31.

The commission is investigating the deaths of 34 striking mineworkers, shot by the police at Marikana, in North West, on August 16, and the deaths of 10 people in strike-related violence the previous week.

On Monday Mpofu provisionally withdrew from the inquiry pending the outcome of the high court application.

Two other parties participating in the commission - the Legal Resources Centre and the families of the miners killed - also provisionally withdrew.