File picture - An unidentified mine worker sits on a rock at the Lonmin mine near Rustenburg. Picture: Themba Hadebe/AP

Johannesburg - The ANC Youth League has commended a decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to withdraw murder charges against 270 Lonmin mineworkers and release them.

“The African National Congress Youth League welcomes the provisional withdrawal of charges against the miners of Marikana,” spokeswoman Khusela Sangoni-Khawe said in a statement.

Sangoni-Khawe said the arresting and charging of the miners was devoid of all logic and was preposterous.

The NPA 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 been verified.

They 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said the arrested men would also be charged with the murder and attempted murder, but the charges were provisionally withdrawn on Sunday after a public outcry.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.

Sangoni-Khawe said the charges were meant to unilaterally pre-empt the outcome of a commission of inquiry into the shooting, and which the ANCYL had consistently called on stakeholders to support.

She said the police who shot at the miners remained in society with no repercussions for their actions, and that the NPA had not acted as quickly to charge them as it had the mineworkers.

She compared the Marikana shootings to those in Sharpeville in 1960 and in the Vaal in 1984, and said it was clear the lessons the government had learnt from those uprisings were few and far between.