162 Marikana miners released

Some of the 162 Lonmin mineworkers are freed on 3 September 2012 by the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court after murder charges against them were dropped. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.
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GA-RANKUWA – At least 162 of the 270 miners arrested during the Lonmin Marikana shooting were released on Monday.

Some 34 miners died when police opened fire on protesting workers at the mine’s North West operation on August 16, resulting in the arrests.

The 126 suspects were released on warnings in the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Sunday dropped murder charges against them.

Some of the released workers sang and danced when they were released after spending two weeks in various jails in the North West and Pretoria.

Another group of workers will be released later this week after the NPA verifies their addresses.

The miners were warned not to participate in illegal gatherings and to refrain from carrying illegal firearms.

The workers still face several charges and are due to appear in court on 14 February 2013.

Meanwhile, striking workers at mine on Monday pulled out of peace talks, saying they were only willing to go back to the negotiating table if their wage demands were discussed.

Mineworkers said they were disappointed that Lonmin management had not indicated whether or not they would approve their salary request.

At the beginning of August, 3,000 rock drill operators downed tools and demanded a salary increase.

Earlier on Monday, officials from the Labour Department and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) updated workers about discussions with mine management.

Talks took place behind closed doors at the Rustenburg Civic Centre.

The South African Council of Churches president Bishop Jo Seoka, who has been mediating the talks on behalf of the workers, said the miners were frustrated.

Negotiations are expected to continue until Thursday.

(Edited by Zethu Zulu)