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‘Compensation will bring Marikana families closure’

The Justice Department says families of the Marikana victims have asked to be paid out instead.

Striking Lonmin workers walk past a dead body in Marikana mine on 14 August, 2012. The area has been gripped by violence which has resulted in at least 10 deaths. Picture: Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - The Justice Department on Monday said families of the 34 miners killed in Marikana had expressed concern about having to attend the commission of inquiry into the bloodbath and had asked to be financially compensated instead.

The department was defending its decision to withdraw travel assistance to the families - amidst calls for the inquiry to be suspended until the decision is reversed.

State law advisor Jabulile Skhosana said the department sent a team to the Eastern Cape, where many of the families reside, to find out what they wanted.

He said the families said the only thing that would bring them closure was if they were compensated a "configured" amount for their losses.

Jackie Dugard from the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) disputed the department's claim.

"We believe that there is legal obligation for the government to continue to fund them.

"They have created what we call in law a legitimate expectation and now they're relaying on that."

"But beyond that, we don't think the government should conduct itself purely on the bottom legal line; we believe this is a highly moral issue."

The inquiry into events surrounding the Marikana shooting is scheduled to resume today at the Rustenburg Civic Centre.

On 16 August, 34 miners were gunned down when they clashed with police in Wonderkop, during a five-week stoppage by Lonmin workers over wages.