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Pretoria - Politicians pledged their support for Marikana miners and called on the government to ensure justice was served during a march in Pretoria on Thursday.
Citizens4Marikana, a group which came together through social media on the first anniversary of last year's violence at Marikana, organised a march to the Union Buildings to demand state funding for miners' counsel, Dali Mpofu and his team.
Mpofu recently provisionally withdrew from the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the circumstances of 44 deaths in strike-related unrest at Marikana last August because of a lack of funding.
Police shot dead 34 people, almost all of them striking mine workers, while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near the mine on August 16 2012. Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, died in the preceding week.
Politicians at the march on Thursday included Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Democratic Alliance spokesman Mmusi Maimane, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, and Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota.
The Pan Africanist Congress and Agang SA were also represented, but there was no sign of representatives of the African National Congress.
Buthelezi said everyone affected by the events at Marikana should be able to present their case at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry for it to be fair and successful.
“If the state could afford the best lawyers then the playing field should be levelled,” he said.
“Government needs to open its eyes. It needs to see the depth of pain and hardship on the people it is ignoring... and accept responsibility to set things right in our country.”
Mpofu applied for the commission's hearings to be postponed while he sought funding, but its chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, ruled on Monday that it would not be prejudicial to his clients to continue the hearings in his absence.
Mpofu has already approached the high court and the Constitutional Court in an attempt to obtain state funding. Both courts have dismissed his application.
He will appeal the matter in the high court later this month.
Malema told the marchers miners would have received state funding if those who were killed were members of the National Union of Mineworkers.
“That mountain (in Marikana) would be the most important mountain in the country. Only people who are important to the ANC are those aligned with the ANC,” he said.
Earlier, Holomisa announced that his party had donated R10,000 to the Marikana Dignity Trust.
March convenor Bishop Joe Seoka said the trust, which was established to further the cause of the miners, would also be used to restore the dignity of the Marikana community.
“It will also be used to assist with counselling because people were traumatised by what they witnessed on the day,” he said.
The marchers handed a memorandum to directors in the presidency Sifiso Mkhize and Shimi Mashweu.
In the memorandum, they asked Zuma to respond to the demand for state funding by Friday.
“In conducting this peaceful and lawful demonstration, the victims wish to urge the South African government and its organs to reconsider their position and provide the necessary funding,” read the memorandum.
“Failure to do so will result in a discredited process on which R115 million of taxpayers’ money has already been spent or allocated and which will go to waste.”
No credible and legitimate outcome would come out of the commission without the participation of the victims.
“Certainly, no closure, reconciliation, truth and justice can result from it.”
The workers and victims would take steps to withdraw the legal challenge already before the court and return to the commission should Zuma respond positively to their demand.
“This step is likely to restore the commission’s credibility and the bona fides of the South African government.” - Sapa