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South Africa to free miners after murder charges dropped

Published on Sep 3, 2012 9:27 PM

PRETORIA (AFP) - A South African court Monday was due to start releasing 270 miners on Monday arrested over the deaths of 34 of their colleagues killed by police, after prosecutors withdrew murder charges against them.

Prosecutors provisionally dropped the charges Sunday amid a public outrage after officers opened fire on strikers at platinum giant Lonmin's Marikana mine in the worst day of police violence since the end of apartheid.

Lawyers were waiting for the detainees to be brought to court near Pretoria early Monday afternoon. "The release will start around 2pm (1200 GMT)," lawyer for the detained Mapule Keetse told AFP.

A dozen onlookers stood by outside the court precinct with a handful of family members with one poster urging "Release Innocent Workers". "We heard a promise to say maybe they'll release somebody," said a woman, who did not want to be identified, sitting outside a courtroom where she had come to support her brother-in-law.

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