31 Aug 2012

Mine workers charged with murder

12:06 pm on 31 August 2012

Workers arrested at South Africa's Marikana mine have been charged in court with the murder of 34 of their colleagues shot by police.

Police opened fire on a group of striking miners on 16 August, sparking a national outcry.

Officials say the 270 arrested workers will be tried under an common purpose doctrine because they were in the crowd which confronted police that day.

The BBC reports the law was used during the apartheid era by the former white minority regime against black activists fighting for democracy.

At the time, the African National Congress (ANC) - which is now in power - campaigned against the doctrine.

Police officers have not been charged over the shootings as a commission of inquiry will investigate their actions.

Former ruling ANC party youth leader Julius Malema said the decision to charge the workers was madness.

"The whole world saw the policemen kill those people," Mr Malema said, adding that he would ask defence lawyers to make an urgent application at the High Court.

Six of the 270 workers remain in hospital after being wounded in the shooting at the mine owned by Lonmin, the world's third biggest platinum producer, in South Africa's North West province.