The affordable education loan option
Johannesburg -Political parties welcomed the High Court in Johannesburg's order on Monday that Legal Aid SA pay the legal costs of the survivors of the Marikana shooting.
The Economic Freedom Fighters said the state should not appeal the ruling.
“It is in the best interest of the public that, through taxpayers' money, government must fund the workers and their families' legal costs as it acted in killing them, in the name of the Republic,” said spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
“The truth about Marikana and justice for the victims will indeed serve a great benefit to the pain that the massacre has caused to victims, but also to the nation as a whole.”
The court ruled that Legal Aid pay the expenses incurred by those who survived the Marikana shooting last year to have counsel represent them at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry.
The application was brought by Dali Mpofu, who represents the miners who were wounded and arrested at Marikana.
The miners have not been represented at the commission recently because of a lack of funding.
The inquiry is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related unrest at Lonmin platinum's operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in North West last year.
The police shot dead 34 people, mostly striking workers, wounded 70, and arrested 250 on August 16, 2012. In the preceding week, 10
people died, including two policemen and two security guards.
The Inkatha Freedom Party said the state's refusal to provide funding to the mineworkers' legal team had unnecessarily delayed the commission.
“This matter did not need to end up being adjudicated on by the courts,” said secretary general Sibongile Nkomo.
“It was only fair and logical that the state fund the legal team of the surviving Marikana mineworkers and the families of those who died as the Farlam Commission of Inquiry was set up by the president.”
“Had it not been for those delays, the commission could already have completed its mandate and this painful chapter in the history of South Africa could have been closed,” she said.
AgangSA said it had always found it totally unacceptable that the victims and families of the dead were being denied the legal representation critical to help them establish the truth about what happened at Marikana, whereas the police, accused of killing their loved ones, had lawyers paid for by the state.
“We hope the government will act with humility and common sense by responding positively, instead of appealing the decision and further prolonging the anguish of the families. This matter should not have gone to court in the first place,” said Agang's political director, Moeketsi Mosola.
The Bench Marks Foundation said the court ruling was a victory for the workers, their families and for democracy.
“We are very excited about this ruling,” said its chairman Bishop Johannes Seoka.
“This is a great achievement and the result of a lot of hard work and unnecessary costs, costs which those we represent would never have been able to cover and will now, thankfully, be covered by the state.”
He said all legal routes had been tried to resolve the matter.
“We even obtained a permit, and with a petition in hand, marched to the Union Buildings.
“I am very sure that this positive response would not have happened had we not put pressure on the state.
“We are very pleased that the lawyers will re-join the Farlam Commission tomorrow (Tuesday)and that all stakeholders that were involved on that fateful day, can finally have their voices heard,” Seoka said.