Freed Marikana miners arrive home

Murder charges against them were dropped at the weekend.

They were greeted by the cheers which erupted from a large crowd who had been celebrating opposite the platinum mine.

They arrived in a convoy of minibuses, supplied by the Friends of the Youth League. Families embraced and women wept as they welcomed their husbands home.

"I'm happy now because my husband is back," one woman said. Another said she was going to sleep very well knowing her husband was home.

One of the released miners, Victor Molefane, cried saying he was celebrating because his wife had given birth to a baby boy on Monday.

"We are very happy."

His wife could not join him because she was still in a Soweto hospital.

The men formed a circle in the middle of a field next to the mine for the private cleansing ceremony, which lasted about 10 minutes.

The women cheered, danced and sang religious songs. After the ceremony the crowd dispersed peacefully.

Before the miners' arrival, a group of more than 200 sang revolutionary songs and danced to the backdrop of yellow lights and smoke rising from the platinum mine, looking forward to their homecoming.

"We will always mess it up," the group sang, wielding sticks and knobkerries as police kept watch from a distance.

The first group of about 50 men was released on warnings by the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court late on Monday afternoon.

State prosecutor Nigel Carpenter confirmed the murder and attempted murder charges against all 270 miners arrested were dropped.

The miners' lawyers put it on record that they wanted all charges to be dropped.

"All the charges are incompetent and should be withdrawn," Dali Mpofu said. He said this would be addressed when the trial resumed on February 12 next year.

The workers walked out of court singing and rolling their hands in a motion associated with calling for the substitution of a soccer player.

The men's wives greeted them as they made their way out.

"I'm very happy," Matidiso Poshodi said of her husband.

"I've been looking forward to this so much."

One of the workers, Bongani Maqakalana (27) said: "I'm very happy. I get to see my child."

The workers opted to use Friends of the Youth's League's transport, instead of that supplied by the state. The organisation supports expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.

"We don't feel we need that [state transport], they have been in Nyalas a while now," Sello Difeto, a local businessman said, referring to the armoured police vehicles.

Monday's proceedings were delayed because the miners needed to be picked up from various prisons and brought to court. By 3pm, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Vuyisile Calaza said authorities had found 91 of the miners.

The NPA said on Sunday the physical addresses of these miners had been confirmed, and they could apply to be released on warnings.

"Those whose physical residential addresses have not been confirmed by the police will remain in custody until the next court appearance, which is Thursday," the NPA said.

Last week, prosecutors said the men would be charged with the murder and attempted murder of 34 of their colleagues on August 16. Following a public outcry the charges were provisionally withdrawn on Sunday.

The murder charges had been brought by the director of public prosecutions in the North West, Johan Smit SC. He told reporters he had evidence that armed workers went to the hilltop in Marikana to attack the police.

"It was desirable for me to put the charges in," he said. – Sapa

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