South Africa 26.9.2013 06:00 am

Marikana inquiry a ‘sham’ without miners

FILE PICTURE: Advocate Dali Mpofu. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

FILE PICTURE: Advocate Dali Mpofu. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

The Marikana mineworkers were unfairly discriminated against because they were poor and couldn’t afford to pay for a legal representative at the commission of inquiry into the massacre, the North Gauteng High Court was told yesterday.

Advocate Dali Mpofu argued that the commission would become a “one-sided sham” if it was allowed to continue without the injured and arrested miners being able to state their case properly. “What’s the point of spending R120 million on something that’s not worth the paper it’s written on, because it will be a one-sided sham?” he asked.

The miners want the court to set aside a decision by the Justice Minister and Legal Aid South Africa to refuse them legal funding for the commission proceedings, claiming the decision was unconstitutional.

The High Court in July refused an urgent application to force the president and Justice Minister to grant the miners legal aid at state expense for the commission proceedings pending the outcome of their review application.

The Constitutional Court subsequently dismissed an application for leave to appeal against the court’s ruling.

A total of 44 people, including policemen, were killed, at least 78 injured and over 200 minewor-kers arrested during a strike at the Lonmin mine near Rustenburg last year during which police opened fire on mineworkers on August 16.

Mpofu argued that the miners could be charged with murder if the commission found they had acted unlawfully. Charges against the miners had been provisionally withdrawn to await the outcome of the commission.

The commission would not only make recommendations but also findings of fact, which could be damaging for some, he said.

“What’s happening is unfair. Because of our poverty, we’re not in the same position as them (the mine and police). We have one unpaid advocate who has to do all the work. They have seven.”

 

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