Marikana commission halted momentarily

The Farlam Commission is deciding whether to continue without the victims' relatives.

 Families of the 34 mineworkers killed at Lonmin mine attend the Marikana inquiry at the civic centre in Rustenburg, on 22 October 2012. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

RUSTENBURG - The Marikana Commission of Inquiry is in the process of deciding whether to continue with proceedings, without the families of the victims.

On Saturday, the Department of Justice decided to withdraw funding to transport and house the families of the 34 Lonmin miners killed in a clash with police during an illegal strike on 16 August.

The department said there was no legal basis for it to provide financial assistance for the families to attend the hearings at the Rustenburg Civic Centre.

It made sure relatives were there for the first session, and will only offer support if they are called as witnesses.

Some of the victims' families live as far as the Eastern Cape, and lost their loved ones and bread winners in the violent five-week dispute over wages.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe announced on Monday morning that funds would now be allocated to the families for accommodation and transport to the inquiry in Rustenburg.

While the Justice Department has made arrangements to fund families of the victims, it is unclear when they will actually be able to attend the proceedings.

Advocate Dali Mpofu said it was imperative they were present.

"We know that they are interested in the developments."

Meanwhile, legal teams said the miners arrested last week for murder should be released so that they can testify and participate in the inquiry.