South Africa: Arrested miners to be charged with the murder of their massacred comrades

From the BBC:

Workers arrested at South Africa’s Marikana mine will be charged later with the murder of 34 colleagues shot by police, an official has said.

A prosecuting authority spokesman told the BBC that 270 workers would be tried under the “common purpose” doctrine.

They were in the crowd which confronted the police, who opened fire, sparking a national outcry.

Police have not been charged because a commission of inquiry would investigate their actions, the spokesman said.

Six of the 270 workers remain in hospital, after being wounded in the 16 August shooting at the mine owned by Lonmin, the world’s third biggest platinum producer, in South Africa’s North West province.

The other 264 workers are appearing in the Garankuwa magistrates court near the capital, Pretoria.

About 100 people are protesting outside court, demanding their immediate release.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesman Frank Lesenyego said they would all face murder charges – including those who were unarmed or were at the back of the crowd.

“This is under common law, where people are charged with common purpose in a situation where there are suspects with guns or any weapons and they confront or attack the police and a shooting takes place and there are fatalities,” he said.

Mr Lesenyego said the updated indictments had already been given to the defence and these would be formally delivered to the accused in court, starting on Thursday.

The conflict at the mine was triggered by a dispute over pay and union recognition, which has paralysed operations for three weeks.

During a visit to the mine after the killings, President Jacob Zuma told workers he “felt their pain” and promised a speedy and thorough investigation of the killings.

Police said they started shooting after being threatened by large groups of miners armed with machetes.

Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed during the protests before the police shooting.

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