Attacking Miners With Old Apartheid Law

Outside of a dictatorship, you might reasonably expect when police shoot dead 34 miners that the police (or at least some of them) are arrested.

But no, in the new South Africa their employing old apartheid laws to arrest the remaining few hundred miners and the police are let off, truly appalling:

“The 270 miners arrested during violent strikes in South Africa have been charged with the murder of their 34 colleagues who were shot dead by police.

The murder charge – and associated charges for the attempted murder of 78 miners injured at the Marikana mine near Johannesburg – was brought by the national prosecuting authority under an obscure Roman-Dutch common law previously used by the apartheid government.

The move came as the men appeared in court charged with public violence over the clashes at the Lonmin platinum mine on 16 August when striking miners armed with clubs, machetes and at least one gun allegedly charged police, who opened fire. It suggests President Jacob Zuma’s government is trying to shift the blame for the killings to the striking miners.

The prosecuting authority said all 270 miners had been charged. Less than one in 10 Lonmin miners turned up for work at the mine on Tuesday, the lowest level since workers returned to work following the clashes. Violence has since spread to Lonmin’s other operations. “

As the Washington Post reports:

“The strike, apparently rooted in rivalry between two trade unions, had rock drill operators demanding a minimum wage of 12,500 rand ($1,560) and complaining that their take-home pay was only about 5,500 rand ($688).

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 London-registered Lonmin PLC 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.

Some survivors said many of the miners were fleeing police tear gas and water cannons when they were shot. “

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