270 striking miners charged with murder

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The Independent Online

State prosecutors have charged 270 strikers arrested at Marikana platinum mine with the murder of 34 colleagues. The arrests went ahead even though the victims were shot dead by police, in the latest setback to prospects of peace in the South African mining industry.

The strike at Marikana called for 3,000 rock drillers to have their monthly pay increased to 12,500 Rands (£940) and has led to a total of 44 deaths, including those of two policemen and two security guards. In shocking scenes on 16 August, police opened fire on a group of miners, killing 34 of them and injuring 78.

National Prosecution Agency spokesman Frank Lesenyego dismissed surprise at the state's move to charge the men with murder, even though police chief Riah Phiyega had previously confirmed they were killed by officers. Mr Lesenyego said the move was a legal technicality: "In a situation where there are suspects that confront members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and a shooting takes place… those who get arrested… are charged with murder."