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Cape Town - Miners wounded or arrested in last year's Marikana violence should rely on State evidence leaders to represent them, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said on Thursday.
Addressing a media briefing in Cape Town, Radebe said budgetary constraints made it impossible for the State to pay for private legal representation for the workers at the Farlam Commission.
“The department of justice and constitutional development is not any different from other departments in terms of the expectations to spend its resources prudently throughout its operations, including the operations of commissions,” Radebe said.
The State could also not act outside of Monday's Constitutional Court ruling.
The court dismissed an application for leave to challenge a ruling by the High Court in Pretoria against the wounded miners.
“The (High Court in Pretoria) endorsed the principle that it is not generally within the domain of the courts to determine how the State utilises public funds,” Radebe said.
“This duty lies within the executive arm of government.”
Radebe said government was not “unsympathetic to the cause of the injured miners”.
“Our duty is to expend public funds within the legal framework which sets the parameters for spending public funds and how the said funds can be spent.”
The government was confident the interests of miners would be protected by the Farlam Commission of Inquiry evidence leaders.
“The evidence leaders have a particular responsibility to gather evidence, analyse it and present it to the commission impartially and without bias, to enable the commission to determine the facts and to make the necessary findings and recommendations,” Radebe said.
The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people killed during strike-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in North West, in August last year. Police shot dead 34 people - almost all striking mineworkers - on August 16, 2012, while trying to disperse and disarm them. Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed in the preceding week. - Sapa