Ga-Rankuwa, North West - The State has added murder charges against the 270 men arrested in connection with violence at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Thursday.
NPA North West spokesman Frank Lesenyego said every one of them was being charged with murder, attempted murder and public violence.
“The State has placed murder charges against all of them. Finer details around the charges will emerge in court when their bail application starts next week,” he said.
Police arrested 260 of the men on August 16. They were arrested after police opened fire on a group of striking miners gathered on a hill near the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, killing 34 of them and wounding 78.
Ten people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in the week leading up to the shooting.
Ten of the wounded miners were arrested later.
In all, 264 of them appeared in the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate’s Court on Thursday. The other six were still in hospital.
State prosecutor Nigel Carpenter said they would join the group when they were discharged.
Expelled ANCYL president Julius Malema said on Thursday that charging the 270 men with the murder of their colleagues was madness.
“The policemen who killed those people are not in custody, not even one of them. This is madness,” he told protesters at the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court, outside Pretoria.
“The whole world saw the policemen kill those people. We are going to be seized with this matter. We have asked the lawyers (representing the 270 men) to consider making an urgent application at the high court.”
Malema was speaking after the men's bail application was postponed for another seven days.
He said arrangements had been made for the group to be held at the Pretoria Central Prison and the Mogwase Prison, in North West.
“At the prisons, the comrades will not be mixed with other people already serving sentences there. Their families will be allowed to visit them,” Malema, speaking in Sotho, told the crowd.
“Visiting days at the prisons are Tuesdays and Thursdays. We are going to get the lists 1/8of which members of the group are detained at which prison 3/8 and will give them to your leaders. We must be strong.” Malema urged the protesters to remain steadfast and to return to court next week for the group's next appearance.
“We will come back next week, hopefully in larger numbers. We must not be demoralised by this postponement,” he said.
“We have organised lawyers for these comrades. We have organised buses for you to go to the funerals this weekend.” Malema was introduced to the protesters as “president” by suspended ANC Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu.
The SABC reported that Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos had denounced the decision to charge the 270 miners with the murders of their colleagues, as a flagrant abuse of the criminal justice system.
He told the broadcaster the State was relying on the “common purpose” doctrine, under which people who participated in crime could be charged with its consequences. - Sapa