Marikana murder charges questioned

The NPA’s decision to charge 270 Marikana miners received heavy criticism on Friday.

Mineworkers are transported under heavy police guard from the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court, north of Pretoria on Tuesday, 28 August 2012 where they appeared following the violence at Lonmin's Marikana mine. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma must suspend Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba, the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) said on Friday.

The comments follow the decision to charge 270 Lonmin miners with murder following violent clashes at the Marikana mine earlier in August.

At least 34 striking workers were killed during a confrontation with police on August 16, resulting in the arrests.

Some 44 people died in the week-long violence.

It is understood the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) resurrected old apartheid legislation to hold the miners responsible for the murder.

Casac's Lawson Naidoo said, "This is gross misconduct on the part of the NPA. There really need to be repercussions."

Meanwhile, the NPA claims the decision was based on all the facts available and not just on what was reported in the media.

Earlier, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said he asked the prosecuting body for a report on its decision.

NPA officials said they based the decision on the legal principle of common purpose, which was supported by case law.

It said North West NPA head Johan Smit is its most experienced provincial director and that it must test the common purpose principal in court.

Justice Ministry spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said they want to know more about this decision.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is furious with the decision, while United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa is asking Zuma to intervene.