March 15, 2018 / 1:21 PM / a year ago

South Africa grants bail to six police in Marikana massacre case

FILE PHOTO: Special task force members and policemen walk back to their cars after protesting miners were shot outside a South African mine in Rustenburg, 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, August 16, 2012. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A South African court granted bail on Thursday to six police officers charged with murder and attempted murder in connection with the 2012 killing of striking mine workers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.

They were the first officers to faces charges over what has become known as the “Marikana massacre” in which police opened fire on a group of people to disperse a wildcat strike, resulting in the deaths of 34 striking miners.

The total death toll from the violence, the bloodiest security incident in post-apartheid South Africa, was 44 with 10 people killed in clashes leading up to the shooting, including two police officers.

The case was investigated by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), a unit within the police force which investigates suspected law-breaking by officers.

The IPID’s spokesman did not respond to a telephone request for comment.

A separate judicial inquiry set up by former South African president Jacob Zuma largely laid the blame on the police for what it called “ill-planned and poorly commanded operations”.

South Africa’s worst police killing since the end of apartheid sparked intense public and media criticism towards the police, mining companies, unions, the ruling African National Congress and Zuma himself.

Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; editing by James Macharia and Jason Neely

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