THE Constitutional Court on Monday (19/08/2013) dismissed an appeal by arrested and injured Marikana mineworkers who wanted to get funding from the state for their legal representation at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.
In July‚ the North Gauteng High Court had refused to order the president and the justice minister to fund their representation.
The more than 250 mineworkers had approached the high court to seek an urgent order that the president‚ the minister and Legal Aid South Africa must provide them with legal aid at state expense for the proceedings before the commission.
On Monday‚ the Constitutional Court said it was not well equipped to deal with urgent matters in general.
"Where an appeal relates to a temporary order‚ this difficulty becomes even more acute‚” the court said in a unanimous judgment.
It said it was not in the interests of justice to grant leave to appeal in the particular circumstances of this case‚ where the disputed issues still had to be determined in the main review application.
The judgment means the workers should continue with their application before the high court in which they seek to review the decision by the justice minister and Legal Aid South Africa to refuse them legal funding.
The Constitutional Court said there were only three provisions in the bill of rights that explicitly entitled someone to claim legal representation at state expense.
"One provides that a child has the right to have a legal practitioner assigned to him or her by the state at state expense in civil proceedings affecting the child‚ if substantial injustice would otherwise result.
"Another is that everyone who is detained has the right to have a legal practitioner assigned to him or her by the state at state expense‚ if substantial injustice would otherwise result.
"The third is that every accused has a right to a fair trial‚ which includes the right to have a legal practitioner assigned to him or her by the state and at state expense‚ if substantial injustice would otherwise result. These do not apply here.”
The court said the applicants were neither children nor detained‚ and the Marikana commission proceedings were not a civil or criminal trial. - © BDlive 2013