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S. African Miners Seek Charges Against Police

Police keep watch during the arrival of some of the 250 mine workers who were arrested when they had a shoot out with police, at a Garankuwa court outside Pretoria, South Africa, August 20, 2012.
JOHANNESBURG — Five days after 34 people were killed at the Marikana platinum mine in South Africa, miners are hoping to see charges filed against the officers involved in the shooting. Owners of the mine have removed a deadline for workers to begin returning to work.

One day after 259 miners were charged with various crimes related to last week’s violent protests at the Marikana mine, workers are bringing similar charges against police officers who opened fire on miners last Thursday, killing 34 people and injuring 78.

Striking workers have been protesting for a wage increase at the mine, which is owned by Lonmin PLC, the third largest platinum producer in the world. A total of 44 people were killed in strike-related violence last week.

Tuesday morning, Julius Malema, the former Youth League leader of the African National Congress, joined several mineworkers in laying charges against police at the Marikana Police Department.

“We’re opening a case against the police who killed the mine workers,” said Floyd Shivambu, a spokesman for Julius Malema.

In the meantime, representatives with Lonmin said Tuesday they would not fire striking workers this week.

Sue Vey, a spokesperson for the mine, said that 33 percent of miners reported for work Tuesday morning, an improvement over Monday when 17 percent showed up.

Vey said this week is about encouraging workers to return.

Tuesday, the company had security at its front entrance, only allowing returning workers into the facility.

Lonmin’s stock was up 2.5 percent Tuesday after plunging nearly 13 percent since last week’s violence.

Religious leaders were meeting with injured miners and the survivors of those killed in last week’s violence. They planned to meet with the striking miners in hopes of helping with negotiations with Lonmin.

Also, a class action lawsuit has been brought by miners against several South African gold mining companies. They claim that unhealthy work conditions has led to many workers contracting lung disease.