LAWYERS appearing before the Farlam commission of inquiry in Rustenburg have asked the judge to try to speed up proceedings, arguing that the commission would be sitting until well into next year at the current pace.
The inquiry into the circumstances of the deaths of 44 people after an illegal strike at Lonmin’s Marikana mine began at the start of August, and is still only in its first phase.
Lawyers on Thursday asked Judge Ian Farlam to expedite matters, citing spiralling expenses and prolonged suffering and distress among the families of victims.
The lawyers said that at the rate the hearings were being conducted, the commission was likely to be concluded next year.
This commission was given a R75m budget, but the lawyers said this would balloon as an extension of the commission’s work was inevitable.
"It looks like we’ll need another eight months of evidence. It seems the second phase will not see day before sometime in 2014. It’s unfair on the fiscus, it’s unfair to the families, it prolongs their pain. It seems the commission will not conclude the hearing before the end of the year," said Schalk Burger SC, counsel for platinum miner Lonmin.
"This is not the forum to settle scores. I submit that the way we have led thus far is unfair to the public of this country. Do we really have to wait to 2014 for that (second) phase? I can’t simply accommodate another year of this," Mr Burger said.
George Bizos SC, for the Legal Resources Centre, agreed.
"Our resources are not limitless, steps should be taken to expedite the process," he said.
Henry Muzi Msimang, who is on the legal team led by advocate Dali Mpofu, representing around 270 Marikana families, was more scathing in his view of the delays.
"We don’t want to see this matter running further, we are not being paid by government. We would like to see this matter go to finality. We keep on getting witnesses, it has cost us a fortune," Mr Msimang said.
Judge Farlam acknowledged the concerns and said he would engage with the Presidency, but would not provide details.