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Miners gather to pray for South African shooting victim at site of violence

Rodger Bosch / AFP - Getty Images

Mineworkers pray on Aug. 31, over the coffin containing the body of Mpuzeni Ngxande, one of the 34 striking miners that were killed by police on August 16, in front of the rocky outcrop where the men were shot, an informal settlement near the Lonmin mine in Marikana, North-West Province. Talks to end a three-week strike at South Africa's Lonmin platinum mine, where violence claimed 44 lives, have been postponed to Monday after two days of negotiations failed to broker a deal. Mine managers, unions, workers representatives and government mediators are seeking a "peace accord" after the killing of 34 striking workers two weeks ago by police -- the worst day of police violence in South Africa since the end of white-minority apartheid rule in 1994.

Reuters -- South Africa's justice minister on Friday rebuked prosecutors for charging 270 miners with the murder of 34 striking colleagues shot dead by police, saying the decision had caused "shock, panic and confusion" among the general public.

The police killing of the strikers at the Marikana mine this month was one of the worst such incidents since the end of white rule in 1994. The arrested miners have been charged under a law dating from the apartheid era under which they are deemed to have had a "common purpose" in the murder of their co-workers.

The African National Congress, whose members used to be gunned down by apartheid police at protest rallies and targeted with draconian laws, has been severely criticized for using similar tactics now that it is in power.

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Themba Hadebe / AP

Family members and colleagues of the late mine worker Andries Ntsenyeho, visit the scene of the shooting at the Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, on Aug. 31, after collecting his body at the morgue for a funeral. South Africa's justice minister is demanding the nation's top prosecutor explain a bizarre decision to charge 270 miners with the murders and attempted murders of 112 striking co-workers shot by the police. The Aug. 16 shootings that killed 34 and wounded 78 at London-registered Lonmin PLC platinum mine were the worst display of state violence since apartheid ended in 1994.