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S.African court orders state to pay Marikana legal bill

A South African court on Monday ordered the state to pay legal fees for the survivors of the Marikana mine mass shooting by police last year during a platinum strike.

The government had earlier turned down requests for funding by lawyers representing 270 injured and arrested miners at the judicial commission probing the shooting.

The decision had forced the lawyers to withdraw from the enquiry currently underway outside the capital Pretoria.

The mineworkers lawyer, Dali Mpofu described the court’s decision as a “victory for workers”.

“This is a major victory for the workers….the poor mineworkers, we have fought so hard,” said Mpofu.

“Justice has been served,” he said.

Critics had voiced concern that the commission’s findings would be biased if the survivors could not have lawyers.

Last month, hundreds of mineworkers and opposition members marched on the Union Buildings, the seat of government, to deliver a petition to President Jacob Zuma to fund their lawyers.

On August 16, 2012, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead by police during a strike over wages, in an event caught on camera by world media.

The shooting was described as the worst involving the police since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Police have told the commission that they there acting in self defence against armed miners.

The enquiry, which has been beset by delays also accused police of falsifying documents, hiding documents, concealing evidence and giving a false account of events.

It was not clear whether the state will appeal the court ruling or not.