South Africa to drop miner murder charges

Monday 03 September 2012 10.53
The miners arrested will be released from prison this week
The miners arrested will be released from prison this week

South African prosecutors have provisionally withdrawn murder charges against 270 miners who had been accused of killing 34 striking colleagues shot dead by police.

However, prosecutors have said they could be recharged when investigations are complete.

Public anger had been mounting at the charges, which were made under an Apartheid-era law.

The miners were deemed to have had a "common purpose" in the murder of their co-workers.

The police killing of the strikers last month at the Marikana mine, run by platinum producer Lonmin, was the worst such security incident since the end of minority rule in 1994.

Acting national director of prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba said: "Final charges will only be made once all investigations have been completed.

"The murder charges against the current 270 suspects will be formally withdrawn provisionally in court."

The miners will be released from prison starting this week.

In all, 44 people were killed in the wave of violence stemming from an illegal strike and union turf war.