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Johannesburg - The Johannesburg High Court has ordered Legal Aid SA to pay the legal costs of lawyers representing the injured miners and victims of the Marikana massacre.
Judge Tati Makgoka made the order on Monday, to the elation of the families and victims of the massacre who packed the gallery.
Among them was Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) leader Joseph Mathunjwa and DA Gauteng premier designate Mmusi Maimane.
Delivering judgment, Judge Makgoka said: “I conclude, therefore, that the refusal by Legal Aid SA to provide legal aid to the injured miners and arrested persons was arbitrarily, and not rationally related to the purpose of the Legal Aid Act, and its constitutional mandate of providing legal funding for the indigent.”
He said Legal Aid has violated the miners’ right to equality guaranteed in section 9 of the constitution.
“It is not necessary to justify whether this violation was justified. That consideration does not arise as I am not dealing with a law of general application, and in any event, it being common cause now that the Legal Aid Act does not prohibit the provision of funding in commission proceedings,” Judge Makgoka said.
The ruling complemented the miners’ lawyers Advocate Dali Mpofu’s arguments earlier that the miners deserved legal aid.
Mpofu argued that if legal aid was not obtained, his clients would be severely prejudiced in the Marikana Commission of Inquiry proceedings.
Mpofu said his team was ready to participate in the commission of inquiry proceedings.
The legal team withdrew their participation after legal aid was refused.