Pretoria – Legal Aid South Africa has announced that it will provide funding for the legal representation of the injured and arrested miners in the Farlam Commission of Inquiry.
On Monday, the South Gauteng High Court ruled that Legal Aid SA should provide legal funding for the miners in the Farlam commission, which is looking into last year’s shooting at Marikana.
Legal Aid SA has in the past reiterated its concern that funding for commissions of inquiry was beyond its mandate and budget, and that providing this funding would have to be done by reducing its judicare budget for other criminal and civil matters.
“In the final instance, it should be understood that Legal Aid SA’s brief is to provide legal aid assistance to the indigent and vulnerable, as contemplated in the Legal Aid Act and in the Constitution,” said Legal Aid SA CEO Vidhu Vedalankar.
Vedalankar said by increasing the scope of assistance to be provided by Legal Aid SA, this ruling amounted to the organisation having to reduce its assistance to the poor and vulnerable in criminal and civil matters, to now assist those in commissions of inquiry.
“This decision will affect the sustainability of the organisation in providing access to justice in criminal and civil legal aid matters for the poor and vulnerable, unless special funding is forthcoming,” she said.
Vedalankar added that the organisation’s annual budget allocation was fully utilised, with no allowance for anything outside its mandate.
“The available funding, which was meant for criminal and civil legal aid for the poor, will be compromised, meaning fewer people will receive legal aid in criminal and civil matters.”
In this light, Vedalankar said Legal Aid SA was taking legal advice on whether it would appeal the judgement, while providing legal aid in this instance to the miners in the Farlam commission. – SAnews.gov.za