JOHANNESBURG – The presidency said on Saturday that President Jacob Zuma will not release the 270 miners arrested during the Lonmin Marikana tragedy, as requested by their lawyers.
Lawyers representing the miners who now face 34 additional murder charges, wrote to Zuma asking him to release them by Sunday afternoon or face a court application to force him to do so.
The miners were arrested after the shooting of 34 of their colleagues in August.
Their lawyers said the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) decision to charge the miners for the killings is strange, as millions of people around the world saw television footage of police officers killing the striking workers.
“The lawyers acting for 270 people charges wrote an open letter to President Jacob Zuma demanding that he secures the release of the miners from custody,” said the presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj.
“The president cannot exceed to the demand.”
Meanwhile, Marikana has been quiet this weekend as large numbers of people left the region to bury their loved ones at home.
34 miners were killed in a confrontation with police over a week ago.
Hundreds of people on Friday boarded buses and taxis and travelled to the Eastern Cape and Lesotho to bury their dead.
24 people were buried on Saturday, while two other men are expected to be laid to rest on Sunday.
The dusty streets of Marikana’s Wonderkop section were quiet on Sunday.
There have also been fewer police vehicles patrolling the area since the shooting, while a number of residents attended funerals in various parts of the country.
Some will bury their loved ones next week.
(Edited by Clare Matthes)