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Pretoria - People marching to the Union Buildings on Thursday to push for state funding for the counsel of miners wounded and arrested at Marikana hoped to make a “statement” through their protest, the convenor said.
“We are hoping to make a statement to government that workers have the capacity to fight political leaders to get their way,” said Bishop Joe Seoka.
Marchers were still trickling into the Caledonian Stadium in Pretoria by 11am on Thursday, ahead of the march organised by Citizens4Marikana.
The Farlam Commission of Inquiry is probing the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 44 people in strike-related unrest near Lonmin's platinum mine at Marikana, North West, in August last year.
Police shot dead 34 people, almost all striking mine workers, while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near the mine on August 16, 2012. Ten people, including two policemen and two security guards, died in the preceding week.
Dali Mpofu, for the miners wounded and arrested, recently provisionally withdrew from the commission's hearings after failing to get state funding for himself and his team.
Among the marchers gathered on Thursday was Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
He said what was happening 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 at the stadium to march.
“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 government could not fund both sides, then funding should be terminated for all.
Citizens4Marikana had instructed its lawyers to secure permission for the Union Buildings march so it could 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.
Citizens4Marikana was a group of ordinary South Africans who came together through social media on the first anniversary of the Marikana shootings, and would join the survivors and the families in the action, he said.
The group said it regretted the ruling on Monday that the Farlam Commission of Inquiry would continue hearings in the absence of representatives of the wounded and arrested miners.
“The absence of the voices of the victims calls into question the ability of the commission to reach a fair and balanced outcome,” it said.
Commission chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, ruled that it would not be prejudicial to the miners wounded and arrested at Marikana last year to continue the hearings.
Mpofu had applied for a postponement while he continued to seek funding. - Sapa