A day of relief & caution for freed Lonmin miners

Lonmin miners after spending two weeks in jail say they will not rejoin their striking colleagues.

Marikana miners arrive at the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court under heavy police guard to apply for their release, Monday, 3 September 2012. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA.

GA-RANKUWA - Some of the 162 Lonmin miners released on Monday, after spending two weeks in jail, say they will not rejoin their striking colleagues.

The men were arrested last month during a violent demonstration where 34 of their colleagues were killed in clashes with police just outside Lonmin mine's operations in the North West.

The National Prosecuting Authority announced on Sunday that charges of murder against the 270 men would be provisionally withdrawn.

Several others will be freed once authorities confirm their addresses this week.

The case will return to court next year, but the work will continue for investigators as they try to determine what happened in Marikana's Wonderkop township on that fateful Thursday afternoon.

A judicial commission of inquiry set up by President Jacob Zuma has also been tasked with finding out the involvement of miners and police during the 16 August bloodbath.

Violence flared up when thousands of rock drill operators from the Western Platinum mine downed tools almost four weeks ago.

Defence lawyer Dali Mpofu said his team of lawyers want all charges against their clients dropped.

The Lonmin rock-drillers face charges of public violence and others for carrying illegal, dangerous weapons.

The workers were warned by the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court to not participate in illegal gatherings or be in possession of dangerous weapons.

For some of the men, like Side Nkosipendule, Monday was a great day because it meant they would see their families for the first time in weeks.

However, for others, such as Primrose Sonke, who hoped her son was part of the group in police custody, it was a painful day.

As she broke down in tears, Sonke she said she had looked for Meshack Mzilikazi in the township's surrounding areas and hospitals but that no one had seen him.

She said she was happy for those who were reunited with their families.

Meanwhile, the platinum producer continues to lose millions of rands per day as efforts to end the illegal strike there reached a stalemate.

Striking miners have pulled out of peace talks, saying they will only negotiate with Lonmin management if employment conditions and wage increases are placed on the agenda.

Lonmin says at least 40,000 jobs are now at stake.

(Edited By Thato Motaung)