Nzimande concerned about Marikana inquiry

Nzimande has backed the state's decision not to grant funding to Mpofu's legal team.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - South African Communist Party leader, and Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande says the blame for the Marikana killings should rest solely with mining giant Lonmin.

Nzimande addressed delegates at the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union's political school in Benoni on Thursday.

He also expressed serious concern about the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, which has been set up to uncover what happened in August last year when 44 people were killed during a wage strike at Lonmin's Marikana mine.

"It seems now to have almost turned into a court of law instead of investigating what happened."

Nzimande also said he backed the state's decision not to grant funding to the lawyers representing the injured and arrested miners.

"We are also concerned that the lawyers themselves who are crying today for more money are the ones who have been bragging."

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe on Thursday justified why government will not provide state funding for the legal teams at the inquiry.

He said the evidence leaders are able to deal with the investigation without parties being represented as it isn't a criminal procedure.

Radebe said while government was sympathetic to the cause of the injured miners, state funding for their own legal representatives was not necessary.

Earlier this week, Joseph Mathunjwa, the president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), said he would personally ensure that Advocate Dali Mpofu receives funding to represent the miners.

Mathunjwa said the court's decision was an injustice to the miners, saying he would even take out a second bond on his house to fund the legal representation.

MPOFU'S ONGOING BATTLE

The Constitutional Court on Monday dismissed Mpofu's application to appeal an earlier High Court ruling which found the state did not have to pay for the legal fees of the Marikana miners arrested or injured at the shooting last year.

Mpofu has been fighting for funding in order to continue representing the miners, saying it's only fair since the police have representation at the inquiry.

He has provisionally withdrawn from the hearings, saying he is still trying to secure funding. He will now hope for an announcement by an anonymous donor, which may be his last chance at finding funding.

Until then, Mpofu will no longer attend the inquiry, meaning the cross-examination of a police officer who testified earlier this year will continue without him.