'Marikana miners deserve justice'

Miners are marching to the Union Buildings to demand state funding for their legal team.

Marikana miners. Picture: EWN

PRETORIA - The Democratic Alliance's Mmusi Maimane says government must find legal representation for the survivors of the Marikana shooting.

Maimane and members from other political parties including Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters have joined the miners in their fight for justice.

Miners will march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria today to hand over a memorandum of demands to government officials.

The miners believe it's unfair they don't have private legal representation at the commission of inquiry while the police do.

Their legal team, headed by Advocate Dali Mpofu, have been denied state funding and their application to postpone the hearings has been unsuccessful.

Mpofu has been attempting to secure state funding for several months saying it's unfair that police and other state parties have funding for private lawyers, while miners have to rely on representation from evidence leaders.

He has withdrawn from the hearings while he tries to secure funds.

Maimane says the miners deserve justice.

"I think it's very clear that all of us want to preserve the right for justice to be served in this country. You can't have justice until the state funds the legal fees of those who were victims on the day."

Bishop Jo Seoka, who is leading the march,says the march has nothing to do with politics.

"This is about workers seeking justice and fairness."

The Citizens for Marikana organisation's Erik de Ridder says the march will begin at Caledonian Stadium.

"We are meeting on the corner of Nelson Mandela Drive and Pretoria Street which is within walking distance of the Gautrain. We call on South Africans from all walks of life in the area to join us in the solidarity march."

De Ridder says the march will attempt to highlight the inequality of the commission should Mpofu's team not secure funding.

"The miners believe the imbalance of funding will lead to an imbalanced outcome of the commission."

Bishop Seoka says taxpayers' money is being spent on representing only one side of the story.

Seoka says this will affect the outcome of the commission.

"We are calling the nation to be present because this is all about their tax money. Taxes are being used for one particular party at the expense of the poor."

Earlier this week, the inquiry dismissed an application by Mpofu to temporarily halt hearings while he tried to secure funding.

Judge Ian Farlam, who is heading the inquiry, said it wouldn't be unfair for the hearing to continue as witnesses can be recalled and daily transcripts can be studied while Mpofu heads to the high court again to appeal the matter.

The credibility of the commission has been questioned after several delays in the past year.

The inquiry was set up by President Jacob Zuma after 44 people, including police officers, were killed during illegal strike action at Marikana last year.

The miners were demanding better salaries.

Legal teams and evidence leaders want to speed up proceedings at the inquiry which hopes to deliver an outcome later this year.