SERI wishes to correct an inaccurate and misleading report by reporter Loyiso Sidimba that appears on page 7 of today's Sunday Independent and has been picked up by other media houses.
In his report Mr Sidimba claims that lawyers for the arrested and injured miners at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry "have received about R5.13 million in legal fees". This is not true. The papers submitted to the Supreme Court of Appeal by Legal Aid SA in fact state that no money has yet been paid to the miners, but that up to R5.13 million has been budgeted in terms of a contract that has yet to be concluded between Legal Aid SA and the miners' legal team.
Mr Sidimba's erroneous claim misquotes written submissions filed by SERI at the Supreme Court of Appeal in the case of Legal Aid SA v Magidiwana, due to be heard on 8 September 2014. Paragraph 75 of those submissions makes clear that up to R5.13 million has been tendered, but not yet disbursed, to the miners' legal team. SERI submissions do not say, and could not reasonably be understood to say, that R5.13 million has been paid to the miners' lawyers.
Mr Sidimba's report that Legal Aid SA could fund 1000 people's legal fees with the up to R5.13 million it has budgeted for the miners needs requires interrogation. The fact is that there are approximately 300 miners, and the cost and complexity of representation at the Commission is far greater than that faced by an ordinary civil litigant. In SERI's view, these facts make Legal Aid SA's claim far less sensational than Mr Sidimba seems to think it is.