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Pretoria - The Farlam Commission of Inquiry should be postponed until the issue of the funding of Marikana miners' legal representation is permanently resolved, their lawyer Dali Mpofu said on Wednesday.
“My clients object to the continuation of this commission based on the upcoming court hearing to address funding,” Mpofu told the commission in Pretoria.
Mpofu has provisionally withdrawn from the commission because of a lack of funding.
The case was set to be heard on September 25 and 26 in the High Court in Pretoria, Mpofu said.
He arrived at the commission with his legal team and groups of men and women wearing Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union T-shirts and the red berets associated with the Economic Freedom Fighters.
They were accompanied by lawyer Dumisa Ntsebeza.
Mpofu told the commission his clients, who were also witnesses at the commission, were being harassed by the police, and that some had been arrested.
Some of them were out on bail, which the legal team had had to pay, he said.
“The legal team get telephone calls from our clients at 3am in the morning, telling us about how the police were harassing them.”
The police's tactics were scaring away witnesses, who would choose to stay away from the commission, it heard.
Mpofu said the police and some members of the National Union of Mineworkers appeared on dockets as murder accused, but had not been arrested.
Ishmael Semenya, for the police, said that as far as his clients were concerned, the arrests were not meant to harass anyone or disturb the functioning of the commission.
“We have made an undertaking for evidence leaders to scrutinise the dockets and find out if there is such.”
Head of the evidence leaders Geoff Budlender said a postponement would seriously affect the commission's work.
The commission's chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, requested a short break before making a ruling on Mpofu's request for a postponement.
The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people in strike-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, in North West, last August.
Police shot dead 34 people, almost all of them striking mineworkers, on August 16, while trying to disperse and disarm them. Ten people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in the preceding week.