Seri denies making further claims on Marikana
The law firm says a single civil claim was submitted on behalf of 36 families and included a number of claims including constitutional damages
Comments made by solicitor-general Fhedzisani Pandelani about claims made by the families of miners killed in the August 2012 Marikana massacre are factually inaccurate.
So said the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri) after a media briefing by Pandelani on Thursday, who provided an update on civil claims paid to victims of the Marikana massacre.
Seri said on Friday Pandelani appeared either to be unaware of the nature and process relating to the families’ long outstanding claims or was wilfully misrepresenting the position.
Pandelani said in his briefing the state has paid R330m in claims lodged by the victims, including R71.2m to 34 of the 36 families of the miners killed in Marikana, who are represented by Seri.
“Seri has introduced the novel concept of constitutional damage which is a new head of damages. This is what we are going to be seized with.”
Having settled their loss of support claims, the families were now claiming further damages from the state belatedly, violating the “once and for all rule”, Pandelani said.
“This is false. A single civil claim was submitted on behalf of 36 families in August 2015,” Seri said.
“The original claim included not only loss of support, but also an apology from the state, provision for future medical expenses for treatment necessitated by the death of their loved ones and general damages for emotional shock and psychological damage caused by the trauma suffered in the aftermath of the massacre.”
Seri said its claim also included constitutional damages for emotional suffering and grief with the loss of family life, which includes the loss of parental care for the children of the deceased and spousal support for the widows.
It was crucial to differentiate the claims for loss of support from those of constitutional and general damages, as well as future medical expenses.
“General damages transcend monetary evaluation, encompassing loss or harm suffered by a person, such as pain and suffering, emotional harm and loss of amenities of life.”
It said the families’ pursuit of general damages aimed to ameliorate the grief, shock and trauma they suffered due to the violent manner in which they lost their loved ones.
Constitutional damages stemmed from a breach of constitutional rights caused by gross state failure.
“This form of compensation serves as a rectifying mechanism and as a vindication of the constitutional rights breached. Without consequences, constitutionally guaranteed rights have no meaning.”
Seri said it rejected the state’s assertion that compensation for loss of support, without more, was sufficient.
Pandelani’s briefing was disconcerting in its reflection of the state’s view of what was due to the families, Seri said.
Pandelani said: “I think we have done enough. The question that needs to be asked [is], ‘how long is a piece of string from where we are?’.”
Seri said the expeditious resolution of the outstanding damages claims was in the interests of all involved.
“Seri reaffirms its readiness to engage constructively with the state to hasten the conclusion of the families’ claims.”
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