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South African miners charged with murder

  • Workers arrested at South Africa's Marikana mine were charged on Thursday with the murder of 34 of their colleagues shot dead by police.

    The 270 miners will be tried under the "common purpose" doctrine as they were in the crowd of protestors that clashed with police on August 16.

    The policy was previously used by the former white minority Apartheid regime against black activists fighting for democracy.

    The decision to charge the workers was "madness", according to former ruling African National Congress (ANC) party youth leader Julius Malema.

    "The policemen who killed those people are not in custody, not even one of them. This is madness," said Malema, who was expelled from the ANC earlier this year following a row with President Jacob Zuma.

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

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

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

    Discussions are taking place 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.