Blair defends decision of Iraq invasion
JOHANNESBURG - Agence France-PresseAbout 270 miners were charged with the murders of 34 striking colleagues who were shot by South African police officers, authorities said, a development that could further infuriate South Africans already shocked and angered by the police action.
The decision to charge the miners comes under an arcane Roman-Dutch common purpose law, and it suggests President Jacob Zuma’s government wants to shift blame for the killings from police to the striking miners. Firebrand politician Julius Malema, who has seized on the shootings to score political points, told supporters of miners outside the courthouse that the charges were “madness.”
No police in custody
“The policemen who killed those people are not in custody, not even one of them,” said Malema on Aug. 30, who was expelled from the governing African National Congress in April. “The whole world saw the policemen kill those people.”
National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Frank Lesenyego told the Associated Press that “It’s the police who were shooting, but they were under attack by the protesters, who were armed, so today the 270 accused are charged with the murders” of those who were shot.
More than 150 of the arrested miners have filed complaints that they have been beaten up in police cells by officers.
On Aug. 16, police said they had failed to persuade the strikers to disarm and that it was “D-Day” to end the strike at the Lonmin platinum mine. That afternoon, striking miners armed with clubs, machetes and at least one gun allegedly charged at police, who opened fire, killing 34 and wounding at least 78.