Legal Aid asks for money to assist Marikana miners

Legal Aid SA has asked for more money from Parliament in order to pay for the Marikana miners' legal representation at the Farlam commission. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

Legal Aid SA has asked for more money from Parliament in order to pay for the Marikana miners' legal representation at the Farlam commission. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

A member of Parliament and a judge have appealed to the government that the Legal Aid Board of South Africa be given more money to accomplish its mandate, including helping the victims of the Marikana massacre.

Democratic Alliance justice spokesperson Debbie Schafer and Judge President Dunstan Mlambo who chairs the Legal Aid Board said the department of justice ought to allocate more money for the board since Legal Aid South Africa was working for people who cannot afford legal costs.

They were speaking at Legal Aid's presentation of its annual report to the parliamentary portfolio committee for justice on Wednesday.

Judge President Mlambo said: "There should be funding for the commissioners … we welcome the support of the committee that there should be provisions that whenever commissions of inquiry are formed then there is funding."

He said the Legal Aid was for everyone and the board would not in any way refuse legal application to whomever qualifies.

"Anyone who deserves the aid will get it," said Mlambo.

He said he has held meetings with the minister who in principle agreed to the propositions.

Legal costs
The Legal Aid Board proposed to the committee that it be given R17-million to conform to the ruling by the high court in Johannesburg, which compelled it to pay the legal costs of the injured and arrested miners of the Marikana shooting.

Schafer said Legal Aid needed money to pay the arrested and wounded miners' legal fees for the Farlam commission.

Advocate Dali Mpofu, who is representing the Marikana mineworkers, threatened not to represent the victims at the commission due to financial constraints.

However, on Monday the high court in Johannesburg ruled that the state must provide legal funding for the Marikana mineworkers wounded and arrested last year after it fully reviewed the case.

The miners have not been represented at the commission recently because of a lack of funding.

The inquiry is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related unrest at Lonmin platinum's operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in North West last year.

The police shot dead 34 people, mostly striking mineworkers, wounded 70, and arrested 250 on August 16 2012. In the preceding week, 10 people died, including two police officer and two security guards.

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