JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s justice minister is demanding the nation’s top prosecutor explain a decision to charge 270 miners with the murders and attempted murders of 112 striking co-workers shot by the police.
The development indicates a split in government over whether to shift the blame for the shootings from the police to the miners. The Aug. 16 shootings that killed 34 and wounded 78 near a platinum mine were the worst display of state violence since apartheid ended in 1994.
The National Prosecuting Authority’s decision to charge them under an apartheid-era law leaves the government open to accusations it is acting like the brutal white rulers.
Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said the decision “has induced a sense of shock, panic and confusion,” leading him to seek clarity from the prosecutor.