Marikana miners to apply for release

2012-09-03 11:31
Some of the arrested Marikana miners. (File, AP)

Some of the arrested Marikana miners. (File, AP)

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Marikana miners charges dropped

2012-09-03 11:57

The National Prosecuting Authority has provisionally withdrawn murder charges against the Marikana miners. WATCH

Ga-Rankuwa - An application for release from custody will be brought by 140 Marikana miners in the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court on Monday.

The National Prosecuting Authority said on Sunday the physical addresses of these miners had been confirmed, and they could therefore apply to be released on warning.

"Those whose physical residential addresses have not been confirmed by the police will remain in custody until the next court appearance which is, Thursday September 6 2012," the NPA said

The 140 mineworkers were among 270 arrested for public violence after the police opened fire on a group of protesting workers, killing 34 of them and wounding 78 near Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine on August 16. Ten people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in the preceding week.

Mixed reactions

Last week, prosecutors said the men arrested would be charged with the murder and attempted murder of their colleagues, but the charges were provisionally withdrawn on Sunday after a public outcry.

Reactions from political parties were mixed on Monday following the NPA’s decision to withdraw the murder charges and release the men.

"The office of the ANC chief whip welcomes the decision of the National Prosecuting Authority to provisionally drop murder charges against the 270 Lonmin miners," said spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.

Mothapo said the charging of the miners raised eyebrows and it was for this reason the ANC welcomed Justice Minister Jeff Radebe's decision to request a report from the NPA regarding the authority's legal strategy.

He commended President Jacob Zuma's decision to not interfere in the matter and said the NPA was an independent institution.

"The NPA is an independent institution in terms of the Constitution and its decisions are governed by the legal framework within which it operates.

"Those who respect the rule of law will not advocate for anyone to dictate or influence the NPA's prosecutorial decisions."

The workers were initially charged with murder, attempted murder and public violence following the unrest that left 34 people dead and 78 others injured on August 16.

The NPA said the group would be issued with warnings concerning the murder charges on their next court appearance on September 6.

The other charges would remain.

NPA’s independence

The IFP said the NPA had blundered by charging the miners in the first place.

IFP chief whip Koos van der Merwe said: "They [NPA] firstly blundered by deciding to prosecute [the] miners knowing very well they face an almost impossible task of proving, amongst others, a common purpose."

The Democratic Alliance said the decision to drop the charges had avoided further politicisation of the NPA.

Justice spokesperson Dene Smuts said a political free-for-all had broken out which could not serve the interests of justice or the NPA's independence since the authority was already perceived to be unduly influenced by the ANC.

Smuts said Radebe had stayed within his powers in asking for the report but it was the DA's position that the NPA be given greater independence either through the Constitution or the NPA Act.

"That independence must start with a change to the appointment provision, now in the hands of the president of the republic," she said.

"The [national director of public prosecution] should be selected by the National Assembly after an open process conducted by a multi-party committee."

- SAPA

Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  da  |  npa  |  ifp  |  mahikeng  |  protests  |  mining unrest  |  labour  |  mining
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