Johannesburg - The NPA must explain why the 270 arrested Marikana miners are facing murder charges, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said on Friday.
“I have requested the acting National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), advocate Nomgcobo Jiba to furnish me with a report explaining the rationale behind such a decision,” Radebe said in a statement.
“Section 179 (6) of the Constitution reads: 'The Cabinet minister responsible for the administration of justice must exercise final responsibility over the prosecuting authority'.”
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 injured.
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.
Expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema described the murder charges as madness.
“The policemen who killed those people are not in custody, not even one of them. This is madness,” he told protesters at the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court, outside Pretoria, on Thursday.
Radebe said in terms of the NPA Act the NDPP had to provide the justice minister with information or a report regarding the case, and give reasons for any decision taken.
“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