Familes await miners’ release

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Pretoria - Families of 140 arrested Marikana mineworkers eagerly awaited the release of their relatives on Monday.

“It has been three weeks. I cannot wait to see my cousin,” said Mike Sobuwa.

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arrested would be charged with the murder and attempted murder of their colleagues, but the charges were provisionally withdrawn on Sunday after a public outcry.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

Sobuwa expected his cousin to be among those released by the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court.

Hundreds of striking mineworkers were still refusing to go back to work on Monday and gathered at the Wonderkop squatter camp where they sang protest songs.

They held placards vowing to not return to work until their demand of a R12 500 wage increase was met.

Negotiations between unions, mine management and the department of labour were underway in Rustenburg.

Religious leaders were present at the miners' gathering. They were to be addressed by SA Council of the Churches president Jo Seoka, who is also the chairman of the Bench Marks Foundation.

The Bench Marks Foundation is an independent faith-based organisation monitoring corporate performance, and is involved in the mediation process at the mine. - Sapa


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