Pretoria – The Farlam Commission, which is investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 44 mineworkers in strike-related violence in Marikana last year, has adjourned until Thursday, Chairperson Judge Ian Farlam said on Monday.
The commission had resumed on Monday to hear a report back after the commission was postponed last week after advocate Dali Mpofu, who is representing the injured and arrested miners, withdrew his team to compel the state to pay the miners’ legal costs.
Four other parties, including the families of the mineworkers and members of trade union, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), temporarily withdrew their participation in solidarity with the mineworkers.
The urgent application by Mpofu was then dismissed by the North Gauteng High Court. This ruling has sparked outcry from various sectors, saying the credibility of the commission would be brought into question.
Mpofu had argued that he could not continue to represent the miners on a pro-bono basis, while lawyers representing the police were paid for by the state.
Reporting to the commission on Monday, Mpofu asked the commission to be postponed for three weeks – until 19 August – to allow his team to appeal the North Gauteng High Court ruling at the Constitutional Court.
Mpofu told the commission that the team has tried to get funding issues resolved out of court, but they have been left with no choice but to approach the Constitutional Court.
“We are aware that any day wasted is a day too many. But we have a choice to postpone or have a skewed commission,” said Mpofu, who added that his team was already drafting papers for appeal.
At the start of today’s proceedings, all legal teams agreed to abide by Farlam’s ruling of the postponement.
Some representatives supported Mpofu’s application for a postponement, saying they would even make affidavits in support of Mpofu’s Constitutional Court application.
Representation of the Human Rights Commission, for its part, said: “The commission must do everything it can to allow the injured and arrested miners to take part in the inquiry.”
Human rights Advocate George Bizos said there was a “high probability” that the issues of funding for the legal team of miners may be resolved in due course, adding there might be alternative funding.
The inquiry was established by President Jacob Zuma to investigate the events from 9 – 16 August 2012, which led to the deaths of at least 44 people, more than 70 people being injured and approximately 250 people being arrested in Marikana.
It was supposed to report to President Zuma in February this year — but the deadline has been extended until October. – SAnews.gov.za