South Africa: Murder charges against miners “provisionally withdrawn”

From NPR:

The South African government is reversing its decision to charge 270 striking miners for the murder of their colleagues. Sort of.

The BBC is reporting the charges are being provisionally dropped. However, prosecutors say they cannot completely dismiss the murder charges formally until the end of the inquiry into the situation. This means the miners could still be charged with murder under the apartheid-era “common purpose” law. Until the inquiry is finished, the miners are being released from prison.

The decision to provisionally drop murder charges has done nothing to ease public dismay at the situation. After all, the decision to invoke the “common purpose” law lays the blame for the deaths of 34 miners on the shoulders of their peers, not the police officers who actually shot them.

The logic is that when about 3,000 miners went on strike two weeks ago, the police were provoked into using deadly force to keep things from getting out of hand. They felt threatened, according to police, because the strikers were wielding machetes.

Here’s how CNN describes the incident:

Police spokesman Dennis Adrio said that some of those killed in the clash had gunshot wounds in their backs and that weapons were recovered at the scene.

The fatal incident occurred after negotiations between striking miners and mining company Lonmin broke down and police decided to fence in the machete-armed miners with barbed wire, police said.

The protesting miners moved toward police and were driven back with tear gas and rubber bullets. Police said they resorted to live ammunition when protesters attacked, leaving 34 people dead and 78 others wounded.

No police officers have been charged with the deaths pending a judicial inquiry and internal police review, which could take months.

It’s still not clear why prosecutors decided to invoke “common purpose” law. The doctrine was employed during the apartheid years to crack down on black opponents of the minority-white ruling party. Applying it to the current situation seems to highlight the growing tensions in South Africa over increased income disparity and high rates of unemployment.

In the meantime, negotiations between the miners’ labor unions and the mine operators, Lonmin, are still underway. The platinum mine, which is about two hours northwest of Johannesburg, has been closed for the past three weeks.

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.

South African anarchist statement on the Marikana Massacre

From Anarkismo:

Joint statement on the Marikana Massacre issued by the Tokologo Anarchist Collective, Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front and Inkululeko Wits Anarchist Collective.

The Constitution promises political rights and equality. It is quite clear that the bosses and politicians do exactly as they wish. They walk on the faces of the people. This is shown by the police killings of strikers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.

ANC THROWS OFF ITS MASK! WORKERS MURDERED!
Capitalists and politicians guilty! Stop police brutality.
No justice, no peace. No Zuma, no Malema, no LONMIN!
The Constitution promises political rights and equality. It is quite clear that the bosses and politicians do exactly as they wish. They walk on the faces of the people. This is shown by the police killings of strikers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.
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South Africa: At least 18 killed by police during miners’ strike

From Russia Today:

At least 18 bodies are lying bloodied and motionless on the ground, after local police opened fire on striking miners, South African news agency reports. Some of those protesting are said to have been armed with machetes and spears.

­Prior to Thursday’s fire violent clashes had killed at least 9 in the mining town, lying North West of Johannesburg. Owned by Lonmin plc, the platinum mine has been the centre of protests since last Friday, with a stand-off originating over wage disputes.

Fighting intensified over the weekend when two police officers were killed- striking workers and local security guards have also been caught up in the violence.

On Thursday demonstrators were joined by a group of women pledging to stand by their husbands as they fight for better pay.

Egypt: The revolution is far from over…

CAIRO – While Egypt’s new cabinet ministers are promising to meet the demands of the revolution and save the country from disorder and economic collapse, the opposition wants the new cabinet dismissed immediately.

Meanwhile, thousands of workers throughout Egypt continue their strike for higher wages and the ouster of corrupt management.

Fears are also rising that there will be a backlash from supporters of ex-President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, and of the use of provocateurs to stop the democratic momentum.
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