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Warm welcome for Marikana miners

Marikana - The freed Marikana miners arrived at the Lonmin mine in the North West shortly before midnight on Monday night.

Released from custody earlier in the day, they were greeted by the cheers of a large crowd who had been celebrating opposite platinum mine.

Miners celebrate their release at the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court, near Pretoria, on Monday evening. Credit: Associated Press

They arrived in a convey of minibuses, supplied by the Friends of the Youth League. Families embraced and women wept as they welcomed their men home. A cleansing ceremony was due to start at midnight.

Earlier, a group of more than 200 people 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 men was 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“All the charges are incompetent and should be withdrawn,” Dali Mpofu said.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.”

A crying Victor Molefane said: “We are very happy. We are celebrating.”

His wife in Soweto gave birth to a baby boy on Sunday. She was still in hospital.

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 Following a public outcry the charges were provisionally withdrawn on Sunday.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

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