Lindiwe Mazibuko, Parliamentary Leader of the Democratic Alliance 22 August 2013
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Jeff Radebe has dealt a blow to the plight of the mineworkers who were victims of the tragic events that unfolded at Marikana a year ago. Minister Radebe announced during a press briefing this morning that his department would not be covering the legal fees of the miners being represented at the Farlam Commission.
The Farlam Commission was established by President Jacob Zuma to investigate the events that led to the death of 44 South Africans at Marikana and yet its proceedings have been delayed due to a lack of funding for the mineworkers’ legal representation.
The reasoning that the government is not liable to fund legal fees of those who are not employees of the state is a slap in the face of the mineworkers represented at the Commission. It is unacceptable that the minister expects the mineworkers to make use of evidence leaders at the Commission. Evidence leaders serve only the purpose of extracting evidence, in the interest of the commission, they cannot be used to replace legal representation.
Both the South African Police Service and Lonmin Platinum Mines, the other two participants in these hearings, have sufficient legal representation. Denying the mineworkers' right to legal representation is not only unfair, but could threaten the credibility of the findings of a commission that is bound to have both criminal and civil claim implications.
The fact that the government claims that it cannot find funds to assist the Marikana mineworkers in getting proper legal representation is reason enough for both the Minister and President Zuma to hang their heads in shame.