Some miners yet to apply for release

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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, North West - An application for release from custody was yet to be brought by 140 Marikana miners in the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court by 2pm on Monday.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Vuyisile Calaza said lawyers were trying to finalise all the paperwork before the end of the day.

“We are almost halfway.”

The NPA said on Sunday the physical addresses of these miners had been confirmed, and they could therefore apply to be released on warning.

“Those whose physical residential addresses have not been confirmed by the police will remain in custody until the next court appearance which is, Thursday, September 6, 2012,” the NPA said.

The 140 mineworkers were among 270 arrested for public violence after the police opened fire on a group of protesting workers, killing 34 of them and wounding 78 near Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine on August 16.

Ten people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in the preceding week.

Last week, prosecutors said the men arrested would be charged with the murder and attempted murder of their colleagues, but the charges were provisionally withdrawn on Sunday after a public outcry.

“The murder charge against the current 270 suspects... will be formally withdrawn provisionally in court on their next court appearance,” said acting national deputy director of public prosecutions advocate Nomgcobo Jiba.

“Other provisional charges will remain.”

Jiba told reporters in Pretoria on Sunday that the workers would be released in phases.

“The protesters are to be released conditionally on a warning and their case postponed pending the finalisation of investigations, including the investigations by the commission.”

Jiba said the police would work around the clock to verify the addresses of the other 130 mineworkers who would remain in custody.

She said the decision to bring murder charges against them had been based on a “sound legal principle”, which had been part of the legal system for decades.

“The NPA has applied the principle in many cases before. Its application to this specific case would therefore not be unique,” she said.

The murder charges were brought by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the North West, Johan Smit SC.

He told reporters that 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, before lashing out at a journalist for asking questions about the origins of his evidence.

Jiba said DPPs were responsible for prosecutions in their jurisdiction and had the legislative mandate to make the primary decision.

She said the decision on the final charges would be made once the judicial inquiry made its findings.

The NPA was also awaiting the completion of the investigation into the matter. - Sapa


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