Workers arrested at South Africa’s Marikana mine will be charged shortly with the murder of 34 colleagues shot by police, an official has said.
A prosecuting authority spokesman confirmed that 270 workers would be tried under the “common purpose” doctrine. They were in the crowd which confronted the police, who opened fire, sparking a national outcry.
Police have not been charged because a commission of inquiry would investigate their actions, the spokesman said.
Six of the 270 workers remain in hospital, after being wounded in the 16 August shooting. The other 264 workers are appearing in the Garankuwa magistrates court near the capital, Pretoria.
About 100 people are protesting outside court, demanding their immediate release.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesman Frank Lesenyego said they would all face murder charges because they were in the crowd of striking platinum miners, some of whom were armed.
“This is under common law, where people are charged with common purpose,” he said.
He said the updated indictments had already been given to the defence and these would be formally delivered to the accused in court, starting on Thursday.
During a visit to the mine after the killings, President Jacob Zuma told workers he “felt their pain” and promised a speedy and thorough investigation of the killings.
Police said they started shooting after being threatened by large groups of miners armed with machetes.
Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed during the protests before the police shooting.
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