S. African miners charged with murder of colleagues
A South African court charged 270 mine workers with murder Thursday for the deaths of 34 striking colleagues shot dead by police. The charges were filed under common purpose law, which holds all involved in a crime responsible for its consequences.
AFP - Arrested Lonmin mine workers were on Thursday charged with the murder of 34 striking colleagues who were shot dead by South African police on August 16 during a strike over wages.
"The court today charged all the workers with murder, under the common purpose law," spokesman for the prosecutor's office Frank Lesenyego said.
Police opened fire on striking workers at the Marikana mine after a stand-off had already led to the death of 10 people including two police officers.
Following the shootings, 270 workers were arrested.
All the men were in custody and the state postponed the case until Thursday of next week to allow for further investigations.
Lesenyego said details of the murder charges would be revealed during the bail hearing.
One expert, however, questioned the charges.
"In charging the miners for the death of miners killed by the police, I don't see how common purpose doctrine could be used here," said Vincent Nmehille, a law professor at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Police have defended the shootings at the mine outside Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg, as self-defence.
The incident was the worst day of police violence in South Africa since the end of white-minority apartheid rule in 1994.