NPA: Report will clarify Lonmin charges

The NPA says its acting head is waiting for a report on why 270 Lonmin miners were charged with murder.

Miners arrested during a shootout at Lonmin's Marikana mine, arrive under heavy police guard to appear in court in Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria, Monday, 20 August 2012. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says its acting head, Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba, is waiting for a report from North West Director of Public Prosecutions Johan Smit about why 270 Lonmin miners were charged with murder.

After 34 miners were gunned down in clashes between striking workers and police on 16 August, 259 workers were arrested and charged with murder and public violence.

More miners were charged with the deaths of their colleagues in the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court this week, bringing to 270, the number of Lonmin Marikana workers in custody.

On Friday, Minister of Justice Jeff Radebe asked the prosecuting body for a report on the case.

There has been intense condemnation from opposition parties and union federations of the decision to charge miners.

It is believed the NPA used old apartheid legislation to hold the miners responsible for murder.

NPA spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke said Jiba was not involved in the decision to charge miners.

"The decision is for the (provincial) Director of Public Prosecutions to take, which is advocate Johan Smit, and he has taken it within his full mandate."

The prosecuting authority on Friday released a statement where it acknowledged and confirmed Radebe's request for a report.

According to the statement, Jiba dispatched "a team of senior deputies from national office to follow the proceedings and understand the rationale behind the charges made against the accused persons (on 30 August)."

The statement read that Jiba appealed for Smit to submit a full report with regard to the charges, adding that it would help the acting head brief the minister wholly.