After Murder Charges, 270 South African Miners To Be Released

A South African court is set to release 270 miners who were arrested on charges of murder after police there gunned down 34 of their co-workers, and wounded 78 others. The release was due to start on Monday around 2:00pm (12:00 GMT),

A South African court is set to release 270 miners who were arrested on charges of murder after police there gunned down 34 of their co-workers, and wounded 78 others.

The release was due to start on Monday around 2:00pm (12:00 GMT), after the public prosecutor on Sunday provisionally dropped murder charges brought against the miners for the killings by police at platinum giant Lonmin's Marikana mine.

"We still have to establish what the numbers [due to be released] are and get a true reflection of what the intention of the prosecution was," Mapule Keetse, the lawyer for the detained, told the AFP news agency.

Murder had been added to the chargesheet against the miners last week, after they were originally charged with public violence, illegal gathering and attempted murder.

"The murder charge against the current 270 suspects, which was provisional anyway, will be formally withdrawn provisionally in court on their next court appearance," Nomgcobo Jiba, acting national director of prosecutions, announced on Sunday.

Jiba said other charges, including public violence, would remain.

The announcement of the release follows intense criticism from political parties, trade unions, civil society and legal experts.

The strike by the miners of Gold Fields' KDC gold mine is said to likely continue. The miners were seeking a wage increase to $1,500 a month.

More at AlJazeera.

About Diane Sweet

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Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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