20 August 2014

South Africa: Charges Dropped Against Marikana Miners

Johannesburg — Charges against 279 miners who were arrested during the August 2012 unrest at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana were dropped in the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court, north of Pretoria, on Wednesday.

"The charges were dropped due to the fact that the State would not be able to prove their cases if the matter went to trial," said Andries Nkome, who was part of the defence team.

He said this had been the defence's argument from the beginning.

The group was charged with public violence, illegal gathering, possession of dangerous weapons and intimidation following the unrest at the mine which claimed the lives of 44 people.

Initially, the miners also faced charges related to murder but these were provisionally withdrawn by the court.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police at Marikana, near Rustenburg in the North West, on August 16, 2012 and over 70 were wounded.

Ten other people, including two police officers and two Lonmin security guards, were killed in the preceding week.

The police claimed they were trying to disarm and disperse armed striking miners who had gathered illegally at the mine.

Nkome said the miners were now weighing their options about laying charges against the police who they claimed injured and assaulted them during the arrests.

"They are considering their legal options about the assault, and their decision on how to go about the matter will be made known in due course," he said.

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