Marikana murder charges flout Constitution - expert

2012-08-31 11:46

Johannesburg - The National Prosecuting Authority's decision to add murder to the charge sheets of 270 Marikana workers is "shameful" as it flouts the Constitution, law expert Pierre de Vos said in his blog.

He said the NPA Act requires every member of the authority to act without fear, favour or prejudice.

"Instead they have acted with fear, favour and prejudice to advance some or another political agenda, further eroding the little trust South Africans might still have left in them," he wrote on Thursday night.

"It is, indeed, shameful."

Two weeks ago, 34 striking workers were shot dead by police who were trying to disperse them at the Lonmin Mine in Marikana.

Another 78 were injured.

'Flagrant abuse'

Initially, the arrested group was charged with public violence. On Thursday, the NPA announced they would also face murder and attempted murder charges for the death of their colleagues.

De Vos said the decision represented "a flagrant abuse" of the criminal justice system.

"Unless what we saw on our TV screens never happened or unless the NPA is hiding shocking and bizarre conspiracy theory-type evidence from us.... there could be no possible valid reason for the NPA to have charged the miners with murder..." he said.

He said even if the miners provoked the police, this could never make them liable for the killings.

"Perhaps they [the NPA] are clumsily trying to stigmatise the miners in the eyes of the public....Maybe they are trying to intimidate the miners in an attempt to break their spirit."

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said it was outraged by the decision.

Spokesperson Patrick Craven said it exposed the lack of proper training within the SA Police Service and the NPA for failing to find evidence and charge those responsible for the offence.

'Their own version of the facts'

"The NPA should have waited for the findings of the judicial commission of inquiry, which is tasked with uncovering the truth...before jumping the gun and laying such charges," he said in a statement on Friday.

"It is showing its contempt for the inquiry and potentially jeopardising its independence and relevance by pre-judging the arrested workers on the basis of their own version of the facts."

In an open letter to President Jacob Zuma, the United Democratic Movement (UDM) called for an intervention in the matter..

"The police have blocked every attempt by the mineworkers to get bail because they claim that they are still busy with investigations," the party's president Bantu Holomisa said.

"Yet, the NPA has already taken a decision to prosecute the mineworkers even though the investigation is incomplete."

It appeared as though other arms of government already knew who was to blame for the shooting, said Holomisa.

He said this undermined the role of the commission of inquiry.

"We call on you [Zuma] to halt the unfair prosecution of mineworkers and to urge everyone to allow the... inquiry get to the bottom of the Marikana massacre."

  • arthur.hugh - 2012-08-31 11:59

    I have to agree, I don't think murder charges are called for here. Unless there are individuals who were proven to attack the police brandishing weapons, then sure, charge them with attempted murder.

      arno.botha.71 - 2012-08-31 12:52

      i don't know what footage you saw, but i saw people charging at police wielding pangas and the like.i would definitely consider that malicious intent. it's about time that serious charges are made against people who escalate a protest to such a violent level. i feel sorry for the police officers who had to face such a decision, i shudder to think what would happen in future protests if this is allowed to brushed under the rug.

      godfrey.welman - 2012-08-31 13:00

      The NPA must be sure they have a "winable murder case" here, else they would have dropped it like the recent corruption case of 2 KZN Cadres. So does this nullify Zuma's Commision???

      theO rAcLe - 2012-08-31 13:33

      How are they gonna prove that all 270 are guilty of "Attempted murder" no way can they say that, unless they have every one of them on video actually attacking someone, no law in not being able to run around with a spear or knife. So it is going to waste a lot of tax payers money then eventually get swept under the rug, Just Watch this space.

      theO rAcLe - 2012-08-31 13:37

      Our SAPS "To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target"

      william.nigh.5 - 2012-08-31 14:26

      Wait. Are they being charged with murder or attempted murder? Who is being charged for the murdered cops, security guards and other miners? Are they being charge with attempted murder for rushing at the cops with pangas and guns? It's clear 10 people were murdered the week before the shooting & so somebody MUST be responsible for that & charged. For charging at the cops with pangas and shooting at them (yes, they shot at the cops) I think it's premature to lay a charge until the investigation is finished.

      impi.masondo - 2012-08-31 14:34

      the managers of the mine must explain

      alex.tarr.52 - 2012-08-31 18:15

      @The Oracle, you don't know the law, mate... It's called common purpose liability. They don't have to have personally committed the crime so long as they were all party to the same purpose.

  • peter.ndamase - 2012-08-31 12:00

    Dankie Mr Vos. Didn't make sense to charge the miners with murder, they are guilty of violence. This exposes the incompetence of the police/justice system and massive dependence on political solutions.

      peter.jefferies.90 - 2012-08-31 14:26

      They killed 10 people!! That is murder.

  • jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2012-08-31 12:01

    so in other words all you would be protesters out there, take note. If anyone is killed during your protest you are going to be held accountable even if the police do the killing. New justice, South African style.

      junebugg.kinte - 2012-08-31 12:12

      I dont think anyone in our judicial system knows whats happening , We should just outsource the d@mn thing

  • Matthew Slade - 2012-08-31 12:02


  • deon.jansevanrensburg.58 - 2012-08-31 12:02

    Is Pierre de Vos the ONLY constitutional expert that Media24's journos know or is he the one whose POV is most in-line with NastyPers' orientation?

  • @Thabo.Shaku - 2012-08-31 12:02

    The truth always comes out when the dust settles!

  • maphasa.lenkoe - 2012-08-31 12:03

    ANC is so going down...

      Randomhero6661 - 2012-08-31 12:08

      a blessing...

  • lynn.syme.1 - 2012-08-31 12:05

    It is ludicrous. The law is an ass. 270 people did not kill 2 people. Find those who are guilty of the act and charge them with murder. Only a few of the 270 carried dangerous weapons with intent - not all of the 270. If this goes ahead, I feel sorry for South Africans caught up in an angry crowd where someone gets killed - because you're going down with the person/s who committed the crime. Whatever happened to "innocent until proven guilty?" This clearly shows the Government is above the Judiciary.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-31 12:14

      Exactly my sentiments, you said it much better than I did.

  • moi.carla.1980 - 2012-08-31 12:08

    So the 2 policeman, 2 guards and 6 miners that did not want to join in strike action killed themselves, did they???

      zwelithini.gagayi - 2012-08-31 12:22

      ask the police

      moi.carla.1980 - 2012-08-31 12:39

      Why would I ask the police? Those 10 murders took place at the mines when the strike/violence first started. Or did the police sneak in and hack 6 miners to death for not wanting to participate in the strike??

      gift.mushi.9 - 2012-08-31 12:54

      You lack knowledge Moi. Ask the police and if you give me the same answer that you gave Zwelithini Gagayi, then you should ask your mother who is your father as there were millions of man on earth when you were born and if she can't anwser you then there is a problem. Don't you think?

      moi.carla.1980 - 2012-08-31 13:52

      Gift, you lack the same knowledge, unless you were actually there when the murders took place. You're quick to condemn the police for their actions. Were you as quick to condemn the actions of those that murdered the police, security guards and other miners? I don't need to ask my mother who my father was when I was born as he has always remained the same person. White supremacist? Really Thanduxolo? And you base that assumption on what exactly??

      Randomhero6661 - 2012-08-31 14:12

      ah thanduxolo, backward thinking won't solve the problem, im sure you are older than 4? these white supremacist! im tired of you, you have no solution, way forward, you are nobody... sad hey?

      moi.carla.1980 - 2012-08-31 14:27

      Gift, where do I condemn any policy? Actually, where, in any of my statements, do I refer to any policy? Who killed those 10 innocents? The miners know. They were there. The rest of us, we'll never know. Why? Because the miners involved in the strike and all the violence will protect each other, so if they are going to protect the guilty party, then they should all be charged. Have I ever seen a white man doing hard labour? Yes, my father. Every single day for many, many years. Came to SA with nothing, didn't speak English, so he worked in the coal mines for many years as a labourer. Came home every day, covered in coal from head to foot. You make assumption after assumption, based solely on the colour of my skin. You think black people hold the rights on being poor, on suffering, on going hungry. You have a lot to learn.

      peter.jefferies.90 - 2012-08-31 14:38

      And @Gift, yes there are a lot of white people who do hard labour for a living! So please don't throw random comments out when you don't have a clue!

  • AyGeewils - 2012-08-31 12:09

    Gee N24 No Comment from Malema - or haven't you called him yet this morning?

  • dnxumalo2 - 2012-08-31 12:09

    Please tell me Im wrong when I say Marikana is owned by members of govenment including the NPA.Tell me I have a common purpose when I say that there are no police who believe in protecting poor people and that there is nothing called independent judiciary system in this country...only money talks.The poor only form part of the'voters' not part of decion making.welcome to reality at least they were honest enought to show true colours right before the voting goal it next year?

  • jimzimbo - 2012-08-31 12:18

    A volley of automatic gunfire from a line of policemen against citizens of a democratic South Africa, these same citizens who voted this ANC government into power in the belief that there would be a better life for all. YES they were striking and yes they may have guilty of other transgressions but AUTOMATIC WILD UNCONTROLED POLICE GUNFIRE against your civilian citizens??? tragic....the ANC have failed, as such they are guilty.

  • alex.tarr.52 - 2012-08-31 12:26

    This article title is so sensationalist... The blog in question mentions the constitution once, n the final paragraph. The application of the law is consistent with Constitutional Court findings and the law as it stands. Whether the law should be changed or not and whether the it applies to these facts or not remains to be seen, but I don't think it is fair to say that it is incompatible with the Constitution.

  • mike.dufham.7 - 2012-08-31 12:40

    What f@@@ing Constitution? This is a banana republic

  • marianne.v.nieuwoudt - 2012-08-31 12:42

    I feel a march coming on..

  • sikanyiso.tonise - 2012-08-31 12:43

    Police who shot those miners should also be aprehended as soon as possible. It can not be right to hold the arrests of police on the guise of commission, whilst victims of the shooting are being incercarated in police cells. If the commision has not yet anounced its findings those miners must be released with immediate effect just to avoid negative specualation. The whole saga raises eyebrows. Their union AMCU was locked out of the peace talks yesterday and other unaffcted union were allowed in. The question is what was the purpose of the meeting?

  • glen.e.huysamer - 2012-08-31 13:02

    I have to agree with Da Vos with everything that he is saying here. I would also say that the conspiracy is 90% a reality, as members of the public continue to condone the actions of the police who were in affect ordered to confront the workers, when in actual fact their was no dire neccessity to do so. The killings prior to the massacre, blamed on the 'Wonderklip Occupiers" has very little if any conclusive evidence that these workers were actually to blame for any of it, yet it was quickly claimed to be so in the media announced as such, 1st by a LONMIN spokesperson. The fact is no investigation into any of the prior 10killings were done, yet it was accepted broadly by the general public that AMCU members are the perpetrators thereby allowing the very possibility that Lonmin with it's connected politicians including NUM/casatu leadership are implicated in a conspired chain of command which set the stage for the Lonmin Massacre. It set the workers up, long before the actual massacre to be vilified in the eyes of South Africa, and the illegal imprisonment of these workers is in actual fact, allowing a continued cover-up. Clearly this is closer to the truth and the reason the workers are imprisoned. It would also not be surprising that ZUMA will soon call for a presidential pardon, thereby, painting himself a hero in the eyes of the working electorate. Worse still is that LONMIN would be using these workers as leverage in on going negotiations in this labor dispute.

  • lucky.ncube.5 - 2012-08-31 13:19

    Wait and c more blood is gonna spil if ths gvnment is not carful.

  • kobuspeenz - 2012-08-31 13:42

    I doubt Pierre De Vosses expertise. This type of murder charges were laid on people before (post 1994), and proven guilty. The only constitutional argument is "innocent until proven guilty" which, given the Marikana circumstances will be most difficult.

  • zakazarurwa.vuma - 2012-08-31 13:51

    the sangoma that gave this people muti he the one to be charged whith murder and all this violent

  • simakoko - 2012-08-31 14:04

    What I know is that NPA will drop this chargers at a later stage..

      gogetterg.munyai - 2012-08-31 20:19

      this government think we are stupid, whats next.. President Jacob Zuma overturned the Murder Charges of NPA that was charged Markana Mines workers and Jacob Zuma becomes the Super Hero by overnight as hes trying to compete with Julius Malema hahahaha.. comes December they Elect he based of his Heroship of overturning the falsification Murder charges... then whose fooling who... come on ANC leadership you cannot fool us, who ever is advising you his greediness is misleading his judgement... lets not fool each other... we know what your up to.

  • Neal Sing - 2012-08-31 14:18

    They have muti that allowed them to transform from miners to policemen--commit the Murders--then magically become Miners again

  • peter.jefferies.90 - 2012-08-31 14:24

    I think they should all be tried for murder and found guilty!! These people must learn that you can't act like a savage everytime you want something!! This so called expert sounds like an idiot to me!!

      gogetterg.munyai - 2012-08-31 20:19

      Peter lets not allowed to be carried away with emotion, this government think we are stupid, whats next.. President Jacob Zuma overturned the Murder Charges of NPA that was charged Markana Mines workers and Jacob Zuma becomes the Super Hero by overnight as hes trying to compete with Julius Malema hahahaha.. comes December they Elect he based of his Heroship of overturning the falsification Murder charges... then whose fooling who... come on ANC leadership you cannot fool us, who ever is advising you his greediness is misleading his judgement... lets not fool each other... we know what your up to.

  • gandanga.tororo - 2012-08-31 14:30

    Am I dreaming? Are you saying Malema was 1/2 right? Oooh oh. Let us have another truth and reconciliation exercise.

  • Msika - 2012-08-31 14:58

    Bizare! Not suprised only in SA.

  • zwelithini.gagayi - 2012-08-31 15:36

    The killing of the policemen, security guards and a mine worker is a different case from the killing of the workers in the mountain. These two incidents happened at different times in different places. So the police cannot just arrest 270 miners without any proof of who was involved in the killings earlier. Otherwise the whole thing looks like revenge and it is not legal.

  • gogetterg.munyai - 2012-08-31 19:57

    Ok... now i can see where all this is heading, this government think we are stupid, whats next.. President Jacob Zuma overturned the Murder Charges of NPA that was charged Markana Mines workers and Jacob Zuma becomes the Super Hero by overnight as hes trying to compete with Julius Malema hahahaha.. comes December they Elect he based of his Heroship of overturning the falsification Murder charges... then whose fooling who... come on ANC leadership you cannot fool us, who ever is advising you his greediness is misleading his judgement... lets not fool each other... we know what your up to.

      malesela.ledwaba.984 - 2012-09-01 11:07

      Fair comment, the are no basis on this decision

      malesela.ledwaba.984 - 2012-09-01 11:13

      Fair comment, the are no basis on this decision

  • Louise Whittingstall Barnard - 2012-08-31 20:51

    Did that idiot really say that 99% of whites are rich? F#** me what planet is he from?

  • Louise Whittingstall Barnard - 2012-08-31 20:53

    I think he meant to say that 99% of whites have jobs, and have bonds on houses instead of toyi toyi for a free one?

  • vivian.harris.73 - 2012-09-01 10:36

    Our Constitution is a load of crap. Bunch of words made up to impress the rest of the world. Victims have no rights here, criminals get all the protection. Those miners brutally murdered 10 people that's why the police were called in.

  • Philemon Legoabe - 2012-09-01 11:24

    the decision to charge these workers was premature, wat if th commission comes up with a different conclusion on this matter.

  • more.pido - 2012-09-01 12:29

    dz iz rly a bul!!!!police dd killed douz miners fnsh n klaar

  • wackidmaledu - 2012-09-03 13:54

    dent really make sense to charge the miners with murder while investigations are incomplete.!!.

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