Charges Dropped Against South African Miners
Police shot and killed 34 striking workers in Marikana when they tried to disperse a six-day standoff on Aug. 16. Prosecutors used the "common purpose" law to arrest the other strikers for the deaths but reviving the archaic law proved controversial. The apartheid government used the common purpose law and the Riotous Assembly Act to criminalize all protests but the common purpose law remained on the books even after the transition to a democratic government in 1994. While officials defended the relevance of the law, its use sparked a public outcry.
Prosecutors bowed to pressure and the miners will be released while a judicial commission of inquiry conducts its investigation. They could still faces charges pending the outcome of the investigation, however. They may also face charges of attempted murder, public violence, illegal gathering, possession of dangerous weapons and possession of firearms and ammunition.
Police said they acted in self-defense.
President Jacob Zuma has established a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the police shooting, the deadliest since the end of apartheid.
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