Friday, August 31, 2012

South Africa miners charged with murder


'Height of callousness?'

South African prosecutors have charged 270 mine workers with the murder of 34 striking colleagues shot dead by police, in a decision panned as 'madness'.

Police said they acted in self defence when they opened fire on workers at a platinum mine outside Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg, on August 16 killing 34, after a stand-off that had already killed 10 including two police officers.

The incident was the worst day of police violence in South Africa since the end of white-minority apartheid rule in 1994.

Prosecuting authorities said the 270 detained workers would face trial for the murder of their colleagues.

'The court today charged all the workers with murder, under the common purpose law,' the spokesman for the prosecutor's office Frank Lesenyego said.

He did not give details saying they would be revealed in court next week.

Julius Malema, a former youth leader with the ruling ANC, however, said he was dismayed by the decision to charge the miners who survived the August 16 bloodbath at the Marikana mine.

'That is madness. The whole world saw police kill those workers. The policemen who killed those miners are not in custody,' he said.

A legal expert also questioned the decision to lay charges.

'In charging the miners for the death of miners killed by the police, I don't see how common purpose doctrine could be used here,' said Vincent Nmehille, a law professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, referring to a so-called common purpose law under which they had been charged.


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