File photo: A policeman fires at protesting miners outside Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg.

Johannesburg -

The decision to charge 270 Lonmin strikers with murder was condemned by the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution (Casac) on Friday.

“Casac condemns the NPA for acting in a partisan, perverse and irrational manner in bringing charges of murder against the people arrested at Marikana,” spokeswoman Masutane Modjadji said in a statement.

“We are shocked that the NPA has seen fit to make use of the notorious legal concept of 'common purpose' to lay these charges and thereby seek to lay the blame for the massacre at the hands of the protesting workers.”

On August 16, 34 striking miners were shot dead in a confrontation with police who were trying to disperse them at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana. Another 78 were wounded.

Initially, the arrested group was charged with public violence. On Thursday, the National Prosecuting Authority announced they would also face murder and attempted murder charges for the deaths of their colleagues.

Casac said the NPA had not arrested any police officers.

“The Constitution requires that the NPA exercise its functions without fear, favour or prejudice.”

Modjadji said the organs of the state should restore peace and bring stability to the communities around Marikana.

Casac called on President Jacob Zuma to suspend acting National Director of Public Prosecutions, advocate Nomgcobo Jiba, in terms of the National Prosecuting Authority Act.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe on Thursday called for Jiba to explain the murder charges against the 270 miners.

“There is no doubt that the NPA's decision has induced a sense of shock, panic and confusion within the members of the community and the general South African public.

“It is therefore incumbent upon me to seek clarity on the basis upon which such a decision is taken,” Radebe said. - Sapa