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Marikana inquiry ’not fair’ to dead miners’ families

Date Released: Mon, 19 August 2013 08:34 +0200

Inequality could impair integrity of commission, says advocate.

A leading lawyer at the centre of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry has warned there is an “inequality of arms” in the commission with taxpayers funding state legal representation to the hilt while victims’ families received nothing.

Delivering the Marikana Massacre Memorial Seminar at Rhodes University on Friday evening, advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, SC, warned such inequality could undermine the integrity of the commission.

Ntsebeza has been acting for the families of many of those killed in Marikana.

The commission is investigating the events around the massacre which resulted in the deaths of 34 people at Marikana in August last year and the deaths of 10 others in the lead-up to it.

He said the commission chairman, Judge Ian Farlam, had seen fit to appoint a total of eight evidence leaders – including three silks (senior counsel).

“I won’t talk about how much they earn.”

In addition, the state funded two silks and two counsel for the police – at a hefty daily cost.

The state also funded the police minister’s separate counsel – including a silk and a junior counsel.

He asked how the commission would ever find the truth if the state was funded – at taxpayers’ expense – to such an extent and yet those whose family members were killed received nothing.

“If the state is going to fund the killers then it should find it possible there is also some equal representation and resources deployed to represent those who were killed and their families.”

He said this inequality was not in line with constitutional values such as equality before the law.

Rhodes University’s Dean of Humanities Professor Fred Hendricks said illegitimate state violence had been used at Marikana.

“There is no doubt in my mind Marikana is probably the lowest point of our democratic South Africa.”

Hendricks said it also had the potential to be a major turning point where the state might embrace the population.

“Increasingly though the evidence suggests this is not going to happen. Increasingly the evidence suggests the arsenals of the state will be used against the masses of the population.”

He warned the opportunities for the state to embrace the population were shrinking.

“As demands are increasingly not met the pain of the poor will find multifarious expressions.

“Depending on what kinds of impulses people use to express their grievances and their poverty – the state has to, in some way, contain it.

“If the state is unable to do so by consensual means, violence will happen again.”

Caption: STATE FULLY FUNDED: Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza is acting for the families of miners killed at Marikana

By: Adrienne Carlisle

Article Source: The Daily Dispatch