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The legal team for the injured miners, headed by advocate Dali Mpofu, has only received donor support for three of the 10 months the commission has already sat. (Skyler Reid, M&G)
We, the undersigned, call on the government to urgently make financial resources available for the legal team representing the 270 miners injured and arrested following the Marikana massacre on August 16 2012.
The failure to ensure that all interested legal parties before the Marikana Commission of Inquiry have funding calls into question the government's commitment to uncovering the causes of the massacre, and it also poses a serious risk to the integrity of the commission, which is currently continuing its hearings without the miners' legal team.
The government has a duty to uphold the Constitution, and two critical constitutional principles – access to justice and equality before the law – are at stake. The government has not directly provided any funding for any of the victims of the violence, although it has indirectly provided some funding through Legal Aid South Africa to the team of advocates (as briefed by the Socioeconomic Rights Institute of South Africa) representing the families of 36 deceased miners.
The commission is set to continue until the end of October.
By then it will have sat for a year – far longer than the four months originally planned.
This has stretched the resources of the donor-supported institute that represents the families of the miners who were killed, as well as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.
It has placed considerable strain, too, on the Legal Resources Centre representing the Bench Marks Foundation.
The legal team for the injured miners, headed by advocate Dali Mpofu, has only received donor support for three of the 10 months the commission has already sat.
All the while, the government supports large legal teams for the South African Police Services (SAPS), as well as the police minister and the department of minerals and resources.
This is not acceptable.
Now that all the legal teams representing the victims have withdrawn in solidarity following the withdrawal of the Mpofu team, the only interested parties that are left at the commission are the heavily resourced Lonmin, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), SAPS, the South African Human Rights Commission – which is operating on a strained budget and in accordance with its constitutional mandate to monitor the process and ensure the protection of human rights – and various other government departments.
Without legal representation for the injured miners, there can be no level playing field.
That this matter will now have to come before the Constitutional Court is a serious indictment of the government and, in particular, the ministry of justice and constitutional development and the presidency.
Issued by the Marikana Support Campaign
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