S.Africa To Drop Murder Charges Against Miners

by
staff
South Africa's top public prosecutor said Sunday that controversial murder charges against 270 miners for the killing of fellow workers shot dead by police, will be provisionally dropped.

S.Africa To Drop Murder Charges Against Miners

South Africa's top public prosecutor said Sunday that controversial murder charges against 270 miners for the killing of fellow workers shot dead by police, will be provisionally dropped.

"The murder charge against the current 270 suspects, which was provisional anyway, will be formally withdrawn provisionally in court on their next court appearance," acting national director of prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba told a news conference.

Thursday's decision to charge the miners over the August 16 killings during a wildcat strike at the Lonmin platinum mine, in what was the worst police violence since the end of apartheid, had triggered outrage.

"The decision and pronouncement on final charges to be preferred against any persons involved will only be made once all investigations have been completed," said Jiba.

She added that "the protesters are to be released conditionally... and their case postponed pending the finalisation of investigations."

The miners will be released Monday if their addresses have been verified, Jiba said.

On Friday South Africa's justice minister demanded the prosecutors explain why the arrested miners had been charged with murdering the 34 colleagues shot dead by police.

Lawyers for the mineworkers have argued that their detention is unlawful and called in an open letter on President Jacob Zuma to release them.

The workers have been held in custody since they were arrested on the day of the shooting at Lonmin's mine in Marikana, northwest of Johannesburg.