Miners face murder charges

2012-08-20 16:30
Video

Women protest outside court

2012-08-20 15:44

Around 100 women have arrived at the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court outside Pretoria where more than 250 protesters were expected to appear for public violence at the Lonmin mine in Marikana.WATCH

Pretoria - Murder charges will be pressed against some mineworkers arrested for the bloody protests at Lonmin's Marikana mine, the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court heard on Monday.

The first batch of 39 men were brought into a packed courtroom under heavy police guard. The 40th man from the first batch was in hospital.

The court heard that 260 mineworkers were arrested following violent protests at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, North West.

Police shot and killed 34 people while trying to disperse protesters. Over 78 people were wounded. Ten people had already died in the week before the clash.

Magistrate Esau Bodigelo put the matter off to 27 August for further investigation.

All would remain in custody, except the one man who was in hospital.

The prosecutor had asked for a seven-day postponement, saying the ongoing investigations were wide and complex.

The investigation would allow the State to unravel what happened at the mine, and additional charges would be laid later.

He said the probe would be complicated by the fact that some of the miners were immigrants. For someone to be released on bail, the State first had to verify their address.

The defence lawyer argued that the rights of the mineworkers had been infringed, as any arrested person was supposed to be brought to court within 48 hours.

The lawyer said where one slept after work could be regarded as home, so the mineworkers had verifiable addresses.

Court proceedings were interpreted in several languages, including Shangaan, Zulu, Tshwana and Shona (Zimbabwe's main language).

In the morning, a group of women protested at the court, demanding the release of their husbands, brothers, and fathers. Police instructed the protesters to leave the court building. They assembled in a street adjacent to the court, singing and dancing.

As police trucks transporting the mineworkers made their way into the court premises, escorted by police cars, the women started praying, some weeping hysterically. The men inside sang.

Police officers holding shields formed a barricade at the court entrance.

The first lot of the mineworkers, walking in single file, filled the left side of the courtroom benches, which had been reserved for them. Some of them held hands. There were bloodstains on some of their clothes.

Former ANC Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu was in court, waiting for the matter to begin. He had been singing and dancing with the women outside the court.

- SAPA

Read more on:    lonmin  |  mahikeng  |  strikes  |  mining  |  mining unrest
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