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State calls for Lonmin case postponement

The state has asked the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court for a postponement in the case against mineworkers.

Religious leaders wait to address miners at Lonmin's Marikana Mine. Picture: Andrea van Wyk/EWN.

GA-RANKUWA/MARIKANA – Prosecutors on Monday asked the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court for a postponement in the Lonmin matter.

More the 250 mineworkers face charges ranging from murder to public violence, following Thursday’s deadly clashes at the North West mine.

On Monday, a large group of demonstrators gathered outside the court building demanding the release of those arrested.

Prosecutor Bafana Tlhagoane asked the court for an extra week in order to allow for further investigations.

He called on the court not to set the workers free due to the severity of their alleged crimes, which he says affected South Africa’s economy.

The prosecutor said the fact that they were caught on the same day proves the state has a strong case against them.

Tlhagoane added if the 259 suspects are released, it could compromise government’s Marikana inquiry.

Meanwhile, lawyers representing the protesters said they would make an application for the miners to be released on warning.

It is still not clear how the case against the 259 people will be conducted.

Trouble at the mine started on August 10 when 3,000 rock drill operators went on an illegal strike.

At least 44 people, including police officers, were killed in the week-long violence. 

Some 34 demonstrators died and 78 others wounded when authorities opened fire at Wonderkop on Thursday.

Both sides accuse each other of firing the first shots.

On Friday, President Jacob Zuma announced a commission of inquiry to look into the issue.

It is believed rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) was to blame for the unrest.

Striking workers called on Lonmin management to increase salaries from R4,900 to R12,500 a month.

MARIKANA GATHERING

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa on Monday described to hundreds of striking mineworkers how he tried to intervene ahead of last week's bloodbath. 

A crowd gathered peacefully in a field near the site where clashes between police and striking Lonmin workers broke out.

Some men carried knobkerries and other weaponry.

Various politicians, including Congress of the People (Cope) president Mosiuoa Lekota and United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa will address the workers later in the day.

It is still not clear what the purpose of the address is.

Meanwhile, the inter-ministerial task team set up by President Jacob Zuma to probe last week's violence is due to hold a media briefing on Monday afternoon.

(Edited by Thato Motaung)

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