South Africa withdraws murder charges over 34 Lonmin deaths

 
Kasmira Jefford
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SOUTH African prosecutors yesterday decided to provisionally withdraw murder charges against 270 miners who had been accused of killing 34 striking colleagues gunned down by police last month.

Public anger had been mounting at the charges, made under an apartheid-era law under which the miners were deemed to have collaborated with “common purpose” in the murder of their co-workers.

The killing of the strikers at the Marikana mine, run by the London-listed platinum producer Lonmin, was the worst case of police brutality in South Africa’s 18 years of democracy.

Nomgcobo Jiba, the acting national director of prosecutions, said in a televised news conference yesterday that the charges had been withdrawn but they could receive final charges “once all investigations have been completed”.

The miners will be released from prison starting this week. In all, 44 people were killed in the wave of violence stemming from an illegal strike and a dispute between two rival unions, the National Union of Mineworkers and the more militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

Talks to end the strike are set to resume today after a weekend of funerals for the slain workers.