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Johannesburg - Cosatu has welcomed the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) decision to withdraw murder charges against 270 Lonmin mineworkers and release them.
“The Congress of SA Trade Unions welcomes the decision... to drop the murder and attempted murder charges against the 270 arrested Marikana mineworkers,” said spokesman Patrick Craven.
Cosatu demanded that the mineworkers be immediately released, as the NPA had promised.
The National Prosecuting Authority said on Sunday that the physical addresses of 140 miners had been confirmed, and they could apply to be released on warning. The other 130 would remain in custody until their addresses had also been verified.
The mineworkers were 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would also be charged with the murder and attempted murder of their colleagues, but the charges were provisionally withdrawn on Sunday after a public outcry.
The miners would still have to answer to charges of public violence at their next court appearance on September 6, the NPA said.
On Monday, Cosatu repeated its view that the charges should not have been laid in the first place, and said the NPA should have waited for the release of the findings of a judicial commission of inquiry.
Craven said the commission should be allowed to complete its work as quickly as possible and to thoroughly examine all the serious allegations being made in the media about the role of the police in the tragic event.