British miners’ solidarity with South Africa

This video about South Africa is called ‘Police brutality‘ against the Marikana miners – warning: distressing footage.

By Adrian Roberts in Britain:

British miners outraged at SA murder charges

Friday 31 August 2012

National Union of Mineworkers general secretary Chris Kitchen urged the South African government today to “reconsider” the arrests of striking platinum miners who have been charged with the murder of 34 of their colleagues shot by police.

In the worst episode of state-related bloodshed since the end of apartheid police shot dead 34 miners.

But the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to charge the 270 workers with the murder of their comrades at the Marikana mine is controversial as the prosecution is relying on the apartheid-era “common purpose” doctrine.

The doctrine holds rioters vulnerable to prosecution for acts committed by police in response to a riot.

Mr Kitchen said: “We are outraged at the way our colleagues have been treated. How can you be charged with murder when running for your life? It’s deplorable.”

He added that the South African government should now reconsider the arrests.

South African Justice Minister Jeff Radebe has also demanded an explanation.

Mr Radebe said that the decision had “induced a sense of shock, panic and confusion” among South Africans.

In a statement, Mr Radebe said that under the constitution, the justice minister “must exercise final responsibility over the prosecuting authority.”

He said he had asked the head of the NPA “to furnish me with a report explaining the rationale behind such a decision.”

NPA spokesman Frank Lesenyego told the BBC the 270 workers would all face murder charges – including those who were unarmed or were at the back of the crowd.

“This is under common law, where people are charged with common purpose in a situation where there are suspects with guns or any weapons and they confront or attack the police and a shooting takes place and there are fatalities,” he said.

But South African lawyer Jay Surju told the BBC that the “common purpose” doctrine was used by the former white minority regime against activists fighting for racial equality in South Africa.

“This is a very outdated and infamous doctrine,” he said.

“It was discredited during the time of apartheid.”

South Africa’s trade union centre Cosatu is “absolutely outraged” at the decision to charge 270 arrested mineworkers with murder and attempted murder as a consequence of the August 16 police massacre in Marikana.

Update: South Africa drops miners’ murder charges – for now. Prosecutors drop charges against 270 miners accused of killing striking colleagues, but say they may be recharged later: here.

SOUTH AFRICAN prosecutors yesterday ‘provisionally’ dropped murder charges against 270 miners, 34 of whose colleagues were shot dead by police last month: here.

Funerals of slain South African miners held as unrest spreads: here.

Four South African miners shot as strikes spread after Marikana massacre: here.

South Africa: Corruption exposed at Orkney and Grootvlei mines: here.

6 thoughts on “British miners’ solidarity with South Africa

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  5. Calling for suggestions of miners’ poems

    Wednesday 24 October 2012

    I was pleased to see the review (M Star October 18) of the Waterloo Press book The Exile’s House by Ian Parks, particularly because the review concentrated on the poems on the miners’ strike written by Ian.

    As well as the forthcoming book of Yorkshire poetry he is editing for Five Leaves (accidently credited to our friends at Rack Press elsewhere in the same issue), Ian is starting work on editing a book of poetry about the mining industry, including the Great Strike, to be published by us in 2014 on the 30th anniversary of the strike year.

    There are many poems about the strike, but a longer seam of poetry on mining, including by the Welsh miner and, later, teacher Idris Davies whose Bells of Rhymney was turned into a folk song sung by Pete Seeger and The Byrds – among others. We would be pleased to hear of other suggestions of published poems about mining from any era.

    Please contact us on or at Ross Bradshaw, Five Leaves Publications, PO Box 8786, Nottingham NG1 9AW.

    Ross Bradshaw



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