South Africa: More Marikana miners released after murder charges dropped


Thousands of striking workers singing and carrying sticks march on a South African mine in Marikana on Sepember 5, 2012, as police were accused of shooting miners in cold blood during a crackdown that killed 34. Armoured police trucks and two police helicopters kept watch as around 3,000 miners arrived at the entrance of a shaft owned by the world's number three platinum producer Lomin where a deadly strike is now in its fourth week.



JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A further 102 workers from the Marikana platinum mine were released today after controversial murder charges were dropped.

Police had arrested 270 people after the August 16 incident, in which police opened fire on striking mineworkers near the Lonmin-owned mine in South Africa's North West province, killing 34 of them and injuring 78.

Initially charged with public violence, the mineworkers were later charged with murdering their colleagues under apartheid-era "common purpose" legislation that held them responsible for police shooting their fellow protesters. 

A group of 162 miners were freed Monday, a day after South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority provisionally dropped the murder charges amid a national outcry.

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The NPA said the public violence case would be postponed until February 12, pending investigations including that of a judicial commission of inquiry established by President Jacob Zuma.

Some of the workers have said they will pursue charges of unlawful arrest against police. 

Julius Malema, a former youth leader for the ruling African National Congress who was expelled from the party, was due to speak to the striking mineworkers and welcome the rest of the men released from jail.

Malema's appearance this afternoon was canceled because of heavy rain, the South African Press Association reported.

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