Singing, dancing as miners taste freedom

2012-09-06 17:59


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Ga-Rankuwa - Singing, dancing and ululation greeted 102 mineworkers when they were released by the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

The group was the second to be released after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Sunday it was provisionally dropping murder and attempted murder charges against the workers.

On Thursday, Magistrate Esau Bodigelo released the 102 men on a warning to be back in court on 12 February.

"Charges of murder and attempted murder against you have been withdrawn and you are being released on [a] warning," he said.

"The case relating to the remaining charges against you has been postponed. You will appear in this court next year on 12 February."

Another 162 men were released on Monday.

A total of 270 people were arrested for public violence after police opened fire on striking mineworkers gathered on a hill in Marikana, North West, killing 34 of them and wounding 78 on 16 August.

They were later charged with murdering their colleagues, under common purpose legislation, but after a public outcry, the NPA said the charge would be withdrawn.

As the men walked out of court, their families and colleagues rushed forward, some holding flowers, to congratulate and welcome them.

The men joined in the singing and chanting as they walked out of the court premises.

The crowd gathered near the gate, where it was briefly addressed by its leaders.

There was an outburst of chanting "Juju, Juju", for expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema.

The released miners would be taken home in transport organised by Friends of the Youth League (FYL), an organisation allied to Malema.

FYL representative Godfrey Gouwe, said: "We have been with these struggling people through thick and thin. We are happy they have been released now, we have been advocating for it."

Some of the mineworkers who attended the court proceedings on Thursday said they were shifting their allegiance from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which previously represented them at the Lonmin platinum mine.

"Right now, I don't have a union, I will make my choice when I return to work," 30-year-old Anele Nogwanya said outside the court.

He was part of a group which came to the court in a taxi from Marikana to witness the release of their colleagues.

He said he had worked for Lonmin for the past eight years and had been a member of the NUM.

"Kwangogo angi’ifuni iNUM iyo eyasibulala [right now, I want nothing to do with NUM. It killed us]."

His colleague, Thobile Tyobeni, 31, said they were not going back to work until their demand for a monthly salary of R12 500 was met.

"We want that money so that our children can go to school and not be like us, who are not educated," said the father of two.

"The R4 000 we are getting is [too] little to pay for school fees and instalments."

Tyobeni also said the NUM was no longer his union.

On their arrival at the court, the supporting group sang: "uZokwana singamubulala kanjani, uZokwana asi mufuni [How can we kill Zokwana? Zokwana, we don’t want him]."

Senzeni Zokwana is the president of the NUM, one of the workers' unions at Lonmin mine.

Read more on:    lonmin  |  fyl  |  num  |  julius malema  |  mahikeng  |  mining unrest

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