Murder charges against 270 South African miners whose striking colleagues were shot and killed by police have been provisionally dropped.
The country's acting national director of prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba said in a press conference the miners could be charged again when the investigation into the incident, described as the worst incident of violence since Apartheid, is complete.
"Final charges will only be made once all investigations have been completed. The murder charges against the current 270 suspects will be formally withdrawn provisionally in court,” he said.
The miners had been charged with the crime under the controversial "common purpose" law which claimed the Lonmin miners had provoked the police to open fire and kill 34 after a long-running dispute.
Police opened fire on the 3,000 strikers, who were armed with machetes and sticks outside British-owned mine Lonmin, in August.
Prior to that at least ten had been killed in the violence, with two police officers hacked to death.
The miners wanted their wages tripled for work at the Marikana platinum mine, owned by Lonmin, a London-based company.
Police shot into the crowd as a routine pay dispute, where union members had refused to work for a week, turned violent.
"The South African Police Service was viciously attacked by the group, using a variety of weapons, including firearms," the police service said.
"The police, in order to protect their own lives and in self defence, were forced to engage the group with force.”
South Africa's president Jacob Zuma has pledged to open an inquiry into the "tragic" incident.
Speaking on Friday, President Zuma said he was "saddened and dismayed" at the violence.
"We have to uncover the truth about what happened here. I have decided to institute a commission of inquiry. It will enable us to get to the real cause of the incident and derive the necessary lessons," he said.
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