NPA withdraws charges against Marikana miners

The group was charged with public violence, illegal gathering and possession of dangerous weapons.

FILE: Miners gather on the koppie in Marikana ahead of the anniversary of the shooting in which 34 miners were killed. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has withdrawn charges against 279 miners who were arrested during the violent unprotected strike at Lonmin's mine in 2012.

The group was charged with public violence, illegal gathering, possession of dangerous weapons and intimidation.

Retired judge Ian Farlam has to submit recommendations to the president once the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the August 2012 shootings has concluded.

The commission is investigating the deaths of 34 miners who were gunned down by police as well as 10 murders in the days leading up to the shooting.

The NPA's Nathi Mncube says depending on the outcome of the inquiry, the state will then decide whether the charges must be reinstated.

"We didn't want to prosecute people when there could be another process that could help us decide whether to continue with prosecution or not."

It's been two years since the violent protest in Marikana in which a total of 44 people died and still no one has taken responsibility for the deaths.

Saturday 16 August marked exactly two years since 34 miners were gunned down by police.

In the days leading up to the shooting 10 people were killed, including security guards and police officers.

A tense standoff between police officers and striking mineworkers resulted in a mass shooting that made international headlines.

Police officers say they were provoked by the miners.

But the miners say they were shot at because Lonmin mining bosses refused to listen to their wage demands.

The Farlam inquiry is still ongoing.

President Jacob Zuma appointed the inquiry to investigate whether police were justified in using lethal force.