The affordable education loan option
The survivors of last year's strike-related violence at Marikana accused politicians on Thursday of hijacking their march to the Union Buildings, in Pretoria, to try and get state funding for their legal counsel.
“We are the ones who need legal funding and we should be at the forefront of the march,” said marshall Lucky Sibanyoni.
The march was organised by Citizens4Marikana a group of ordinary South Africans who came together through social media on the first anniversary of the Marikana shootings
It wanted to appeal directly to President Jacob Zuma for legal funding in its quest to get to the truth about what happened at Marikana, spokesman Erik de Ridder said on Monday.
The wounded and arrested miners' counsel Dali 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.
He 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.
Among the politicians at the march on Thursday was Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, who was welcomed with revolutionary songs.
Malema occupied a position at the front of the march and wore a T-shirt bearing the image of Steve Biko, to mark the anniversary of the anti-apartheid activist and Black Consciousness Movement founder's death in police custody on September 12, 1977.
Marchers sang a song asking where the ANC was, as its flag was not to be seen among those of various political parties at the march.
Before they set off from the Caledonian Stadium, the march's convenor Bishop Joe Seoka said the marchers hoped to make a statement through the protest.
“We are hoping to make a statement to government that workers have the capacity to fight political leaders to get their way,” he said.
Police shot dead 34 people, almost all striking mine workers, while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana on August 16 last year. Ten people, including two policemen and two security guards, died in the preceding week.
Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi also joined the march on Thursday.
He said what was happening regarding the funding of the miners' counsel was an injustice, but would not say whether the IFP would make a donation.
“I don't want to make empty promises, because everyone is looking for funds for next year's elections. If we have people with money and who can pledge support, we will welcome it,” he said.
Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) chairman Wayne Duvenage was also there.
“They are forcing people to be on the back foot while they dip into taxpayers' money to pay for their case,” he said.
“It is similar to the Outa case, but this is stronger because the government called the commission, but they don't want to level the playing fields,” he said.
If the government could not fund both sides, then funding should be terminated for all.
Democratic Alliance spokesman Mmusi Maimane said justice must be balanced and should be fair.
The strike at Marikana has been partly attributed to a struggle for recognition between the National Union of Mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).
“I was not shot for nothing. My comrades did not die for nothing. Our voices should be heard,” said marcher Mzoxolo Magidiwana, who led an Amcu group. He was shot at Marikana and now walks with a limp.
As the Amcu marchers entered the stadium, they sang: “Open the gates, we want to sing for a person who is intelligent.” - Sapa