Marikana miners to apply for release

2012-09-03 11:31

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arrested would be charged with the murder and attempted murder of their colleagues, but the charges were provisionally withdrawn on Sunday after a public outcry.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

  • loo.steyn - 2012-09-03 11:44

    So murder is ok if your'e a mineworker ???? I mean,, would the ones that could not be proven to have committed murder been released anyway. BUT , ,there are footage of some that DID commit murder. THEY must be trtialed for that specific crime regardless of circumstances surrounding it.. Murder stays MURDER.

      michael.vanrheenen.9 - 2012-09-03 11:54

      @ dnxumalo2 - Those police officers attacked in self defence! They should actually receive and reward... Not punishment! You are just a troll!

      BigChiefPlumbPudding - 2012-09-03 12:35

      The miners that were arrested were some of those that took part in the mass attack on the police. In this specific incident there were no murders committed by the miners. Attempted murder - yes, but I doubt the court will uphold that. The murder of the ten people prior to the mass attack on the police should (and hopefully will/are) be investigated as separate murder cases since they were separate incidents in both time and place to the mass attack.

  • atlegangm.alicia.kgarume - 2012-09-03 12:04

    Pardon me but isn't the independence of the National Prosecuting Authority to be fair and just with the trials despite any effects their decision may have politically??? After all no one is above the law as it is clearly stated according to the rule of law.

  • herman.heil - 2012-09-03 12:19

    This country under anc rule has become one sad joke.......

      beki.khumalo - 2012-09-03 12:46

      You think? Clearly you have no clue how it was under the National Party! Seriously...

      BigChiefPlumbPudding - 2012-09-03 12:55

      @ beki - you mean it's OK for everything to fall to pieces? Getting rid of apartheid is not a justification for the pathetic state the ANC have brought SA to. Nothing is gained if you replace one 'evil' with another, you now simply have a new 'evil'.

  • Alfjoe - 2012-09-03 12:24

    Charged with murder, murder charges dropped! Gogo muloyi, ask the ansestors? I wonder if they used the book in the first place. Thats judiciary for you.

  • judith.taylor.56 - 2012-09-03 12:43

    There is a growing body of evidence that the shootings were set up by the police using teargas behind the koppie to stampede the miners forward. This whole situation has been mishandled

  • impi.masondo - 2012-09-03 14:10

    the miners have been through enough they must get increase the mine bosses must pay the price

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