Casac concerned over Marikana Inquiry
Casac has urged government to protect the Marikana Commission of Inquiry's integrity.
PRETORIA- The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) has called on government to act to protect the integrity of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.
The inquiry was postponed on Monday for three days in the hope that interim funding will be obtained for Advocate Dali Mpofu's team.
Mpofu is representing miners arrested and injured during a deadly shooting at Lonmin's Marikana mine in August last year.
Mpofu has been representing the miners on a pro bono basis but says it is unfair to continue without funding while lawyers for police officers are paid for by government.
On Thursday, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that the right to legal aid was not absolute leaving the miners without the support of Mpofu's legal team.
Casac's Lawson Naidoo says government must make sure funding is available so that the commission can conclude its investigations.
"It's regrettable that the issue of funding has landed up in the courts. This is a matter that ought to have been resolved by the parties sitting around a table together called together by government to work out how best the commission can function and how resources can be made available to enable all participants to take part in the process."
Mpofu on Monday asked commission head Judge Ian Farlam for a three week postponement in order to lodge an application with the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg.
Farlam says it is possible that funding will become available.
"We consider it appropriate to let the matter stand down until Thursday. There is, from what we can ascertain, a possibility at the very least that interim funding may be obtained."
Mpofu said taking the matter to the Consitutional Court was his last resort.
"There is no party in this room that has tried more than we have since October, to have this matter resolved out of court."
The commission is probing the death of 34 miners at Marikana near the Lonmin mine in August last year.
President Jacob Zuma set up the hearing to determine whether police were justified in using lethal force on striking miners.
PROTECTION OF ACCESS
Constitutional law expert Advocate Paul Hoffman on Monday said he believes Mpofu's application with the Consitutional Court might succeed.
"Our bill of rights requires the state to respect, protect, promote and fulfill access to the courts."
He said while it wouldn't be ideal for the commission to proceed without Mpofu's team, Judge Farlam's evidence leaders are more than capable of continuing.
"It doesn't cripple the commission if the miners continue to participate without representation."