Lonmin detainees have access to meds

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(File photo) Police escort arrested Lonmin mineworkers as they arrive for their court appearance at the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrates Court, north of Pretoria. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Ga-Rankuwa -

Mineworkers detained following the violence at Lonmin's Marikana mine can be given their required medication while in police custody, the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court heard on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Nigel Carpenter was quashing evidence, submitted on Monday by the mineworkers’ defence, suggesting that the miners should be released on bail to allow them access to vital medical supplies.

According to the defence, prolonging the detention would be detrimental, as some of the mineworkers might develop resistance to the medicine when they were finally released.

Advocate Lesego Mmusi, for the 260 miners, said on Tuesday that some of the mineworkers were taking medication for chronic diseases, such as tuberculosis and HIV/Aids, prior to their arrest on 16 August.

In response, Carpenter said the State could only supply detainees with the obligatory medication if they were notified of these needs.

“There is a constitutional obligation for the accused to provide an indication of what they require. Without any prejudice, the State would ensure that the medication is provided,” he said.

He said a list should be drawn up, “indicating who was taking what” medication.

The State is bidding to convince Magistrate Esau Bodigelo to grant a seven-day postponement for the miners' bail hearing.

Evidence gathered by the State so far was not sufficient to warrant debating the merits and demerits of releasing the detainees, said Carpenter.

The State insisted it wanted a postponement of the bail hearing to allow ongoing investigations to proceed.

Tuesday’s appearance of the miners was halted by a power cut at the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court. Lights went off as Carpenter was rounding up his evidence, forcing Bodigelo to adjourn the proceedings.

No indication was given of when the session would resume.

As the power went off, police officers and security guards stood around the miners, watching them closely. Moments later, the batch of 28 miners were given food in the courtroom. Bottled water was also handed to the miners, as well as pap and slices of bread.

After eating, the miners were escorted out of the court by police.

The group of 28 men are among the 260 arrested after the shootings near Lonmin's Marikana mine in the North West on August 16, which left 34 people dead. The miners face charges including public violence and murder.

On Monday, the court heard that because all the accused could not appear at the same time, representatives had been selected from each police station where they were being held. These men would convey what transpired to their colleagues in detention.

Inside court on Tuesday, benches on the left side of the court were reserved for the miners and dozens of police officers. The media and a few other people were on the right.

In the street adjacent to the court premises, a group of about 100 people were protesting. Police officers stood guard at the main entrance of the court.

The protesters would kneel down to pray, at intervals. Some were holding sticks and some were waving placards denouncing the SA Police Service. - Sapa


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