PRETORIA - The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Sunday defended its decision to charge Lonmin Marikana miners with murder, but said it chose to review its decision after taking into account several factors, including the judicial commission of inquiry set up to probe a mass killing in the mining town.
Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba announced on Sunday afternoon that murder charges against 270 miners arrested would be provisionally withdrawn
Last week, the NPA controversially decided to charge the miners with the murders of 34 of their colleagues shot dead by the police during a protest over wages in August.
Violence at the North West mine was sparked when rock drillers from the Western Platinum mine downed tools, demanding a salary of R12,500.
Attacks claimed a total of 44 lives and dominated international headlines.
During the Pretoria briefing, Advocate Jiba said the application of so-called apartheid era legislation was appropriate.
“The decision to institute murder charges is based on sound principle, which continues to remain relevant and applicable in our democratic dispensation.”
North West Director of Public Prosecutions Johan Smit said it was his duty to charge the men with murder so a court could make an informed decision on bail.
“If you look at the evidence that we have available, it was sufficient, and it was prudent and accurately desirable to (lay) those charges.”
Miners who have confirmed their addresses with police will be released on a warning on Monday.
The NPA’s announcement comes days after lawyers for the miners demanded that President Jacob Zuma have them released, to which the president refused.
Zuma said he was not authorised to interfere with judicial proceedings.
(Edited by Thato Motaung)