Marikana - A large crowd celebrated opposite Lonmin's mine in Marikana in the North West on Monday night as the first of the arrested workers were released from custody.
A group of more than 200 sang revolutionary songs and danced to the backdrop of yellow lights and smoke rising from the platinum mine.
“We will always mess it up,” the group sang, wielding sticks and knobkerries as police kept watch from a distance.
The first group of about 50 Marikana miners were released on warnings by the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court late on Monday afternoon.
State prosecutor Nigel Carpenter confirmed the murder and attempted murder charges against all 270 miners arrested were dropped.
The miners' lawyers put it on record that they wanted all charges to be dropped.
“All the charges are incompetent and should be withdrawn,” Dali Mpofu said. He said this would be addressed when the trial resumed on February 12 next year.
The workers walked out of court singing and rolling their hands in a motion associated with calling for the substitution of a soccer player.
The men's wives greeted them as they made their way out.
“I'm very happy,” Matidiso Poshodi said after seeing her husband.
“I've been looking forward to this too much.”
One of the workers, Bongani Maqakalana, 27, said: “I'm very happy. I get to see my child.”
The workers boarded minibus taxis supplied by the Friends of the Youth League group instead of using public transport.
“We don't feel we need that state transport... They have been in Nyalas a while now,” said Sello Difeto, a local businessman, in reference to the armoured police vehicles.
Monday's proceedings were delayed because the miners needed to be picked up from various prisons and brought to court. By 3pm, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Vuyisile Calaza said the authorities had found 91 of the miners.
The NPA said on Sunday the physical addresses of these miners had been confirmed, and they could apply to be released on warnings.
“Those whose physical residential addresses have not been confirmed by the police will remain in custody until the next court appearance, which is Thursday,” the NPA said.
Last week, prosecutors said the men would be charged with the murder and attempted murder of 34 of their colleagues on August 16. Following a public outcry the charges were provisionally withdrawn on Sunday.
The murder charges had been brought by the director of public prosecutions in the North West, Johan Smit SC. He told reporters he had evidence that armed workers went to the hilltop in Marikana to attack the police.
“It was desirable for me to put the charges in,” he said. - Sapa