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South Africa to drop murder charges against Marikana miners

  • South African prosecutors provisionally dropped murder charges on Sunday against 270 miners whose colleagues were shot dead by police last month.

    The charges cannot be dismissed officially until the end of the inquiry but all detained miners are to be freed.

    Local authorities used the "common purpose" doctrine, a controversial apartheid-era law, to accuse the miners of provoking police to open fire during protests at the Marikana mine, which is owned by Lonmin.

    Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed during the protests prior to the police shooting.

    The protests were triggered by demands for a pay rise and recognition of a new union.

    As a result, police opened fire and killed 34 miners, sparking national outcry.

    Discussions have been underway to resolve the dispute, which has shut the mine for the past three weeks.

    The killings were the most deadly police action in South Africa since the country became a democracy in 1994.