Celebrations as Lonmin workers return home

Miners from Marikana in the North West celebrated as their colleagues returned home on Monday.

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.

MARIKANA - Dozens of miners from Marikana in the North West celebrated into Monday evening as their colleagues returned home after being released from police custody.

At least 162 of the 270 miners arrested during violent attacks at Lonmin Mine were released on Monday, after murder charges against them were provisionally withdrawn.

About 200 people waited for several hours for the colleagues to return home.

They sang and danced as their colleagues and relatives arrived in buses from the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court in the east of Pretoria.

The miners still face several charges, including public violence, and have been warned not to participate in illegal gatherings and refrain from carrying illegal firearms.

Workers have, however, vowed to stay away from talks with Lonmin management until wage negotiations are on the agenda.

Employers want the rock drill operators to sign a peace accord, but workers have refused to do so until their salary is raised to R12,500.

The three-week strike by Lonmin's employees has been dogged by violence, including the shooting in Marikana's Wonderkop township where 34 miner were gunned down by police.