Lonmin charges withdrawn

The NPA announced that charges against 270 Lonmin miners have been provisionally withdrawn. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

PRETORIA - The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced on Sunday that it had provisionally withdrawn the murder charges against all 270 Lonmin miners arrested, following the deaths of their 34 colleagues on 16 August.

Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba made the announcement at a special briefing held in Pretoria.

The bloodbath came a week after rock drill operators at Western Platinum mine downed tools, demanding a salary increase.

The violent protest in the North West has claimed a total of 44 lives.

Jiba said she had studied a report from North West Director of Public Prosecutions Johan Smit on his decision to charge the miners and took into account the judicial commission of inquiry setup to probe the shooting.

“The miners or protestors or the accused persons are to be released conditionally on warning and their case postponed pending investigations.”

She said miners whose addresses have been confirmed will be released first. 

“Police will work around the clock to verify their addresses to ensure that they will be released. In this regard we request that their relatives or families and friends should cooperate with the police to furnish them with the correct addresses.”

She said the charges against the miners will only be decided after the all the investigations are complete. 

On Saturday, lawyers for the miners gave President Jacob Zuma an ultimatum, saying he should release them by Sunday.

The president however refused to interfere.