South Africa Lonmin miners blamed for the deaths of protesters that police killed


Police surround fallen miners after they opened fire during clashes at the Lonmin Marikana platinum mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, on August 16, 2012. Hundreds of workers armed with machetes, sticks and metal rods had gathered on a hillside near the mine, defying police orders to disperse. Several people were lying on the ground, some bleeding from wounds, after the crowd fled, according to an AFP reporter. Police say at least 30 people were killed.



In the days after South African police shot and killed 34 striking workers at the Marikana platinum mine, faced with a national outcry President Jacob Zuma declared a week of mourning for the victims.

But now that week is over, and officials have placed the blame for the mass shooting on other miners.

Police today charged 270 workers with the murder of their 34 colleagues that police shot dead. The men were charged under the "common purpose" doctrine because they were in the crowd involved in the standoff with police, BBC reported. No police have been charged in connection with the deaths.

"The court today charged all the workers with murder, under the common purpose law," Frank Lesenyego, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office, told Agence France-Presse.

Zuma had promised that the August 16 shootings at the Lonmin-owned Marikana mine would be investigated, and quickly called for an inquiry into the tragic incident.

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Police have said they fired in self-defense, because the miners, who were protesting for higher wages, were armed with machetes and would not retreat.

The mine has also been part of a violent turf war between rival unions, GlobalPost reported. Ten people including two police officers died in the week before the shooting incident.

Following the shootings, 270 workers were arrested.

The South African Institute of Race Relations said in a statement that the police response was unjustified, and that police kept shooting even after miners retreated.

The men charged with murder all remain in custody. The state has postponed the case until Thursday of next week, AFP said.

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