Yesterday, in a “bizarre and shocking” act, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) slammed the 270 miners who were arrested at Marikana with charges of murdering 34 of their colleagues who were among them. Law expert, Pierre de Vos, has called the “shameful” decision a “flagrant abuse of the criminal justice system”.
Pierre de Vos, Claude Leon Foundation Chair in Constitutional Governance at the University of Cape Town, took to his blog last night to express his thoughts on the very public issue.
News that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has decided to charge 259 arrested Marikana miners with the murder of their 34 colleagues who were shot dead by the police, is bizarre and shocking and represents a flagrant abuse of the criminal justice system, most probably in an effort to protect the police and/or politicians like Jacob Zuma and Nathi Mthethwa.
Unless what we saw on our TV screens never happened or unless the NPA is hiding shocking and bizarre conspiracy theory-type evidence from us that places the events we saw on television in an entirely different light, there could be no possible valid reason for the NPA to have charged the 259 miners with the murder of their 34 comrades killed by the police. Not in terms of the incitement laws, nor in terms of the common purpose doctrine.
Even if it was true that the miners provoked the police, this could never, ever, make them liable for the killing of their comrades. At most, provocation could be a factor taken into account in judging whether the police officers involved in the massacre should be found guilty of murder or not.
De Vos was not the only one who was shocked and upset with the NPA’s latest decision. Cosatu spokesperson, Patrick Craven, claimed that it drew attention to the lack of adequate training within the SA Police Service and also accused the NPA for “failing to find evidence and charge those responsible for the offence”. The United Democratic Movement sent an open letter to President Jacob Zuma, and the party’s president, Bantu Holomisa, went on to say:
The police have blocked every attempt by the mineworkers to get bail because they claim that they are still busy with investigations.
Yet, the NPA has already taken a decision to prosecute the mineworkers even though the investigation is incomplete.
We call on you [Zuma] to halt the unfair prosecution of mineworkers and to urge everyone to allow the… inquiry get to the bottom of the Marikana massacre.
De Vos rounded it up best with his closing paragraph.
No matter what, the decision seems to flout the NPA Act as well as the Constitution, which requires every member of the NPA to act without fear, favour or prejudice. Instead they have acted with fear, favour and prejudice to advance some or another political agenda, further eroding the little trust South Africans might still have left in them. It is, indeed, shameful.
Read de Vos’s post, in its entirety, here.
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