Families Demand Release of SAfrican Mineworkers
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Some of the South African miners who were arrested in recent shootings appeared in court near Pretoria on Wednesday. Friends and relatives demonstrated outside of the courthouse claiming the miners are innocent and demanding their release. (Aug. 29)

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[Location - Date:Gu-Rankuwa, South Africa/August 29, 2012][Source:AP][VO:Protestors singing as Police van passes][SOT/:Primrose Sonti/Protester][VO:Primrose Sonti speaking/ mineworkers being escorted by police]These guys, they were innocent. Even now they are innocent because they were only fighting for their rights, their demands, their rights....We feel sad, the court is too long now, and here at the prison we hear that the situation is not right, it's not good. They are threatening them, even other mine workers are sick now."[VO:Protesters singing and chanting outside the courthouse]STORYLINE:Mineworkers in court over violent strike protestSome of the 256 South African miners arrested at the scene of the Marikana shootings earlier this month appeared in a court north of Pretoria on Wednesday.The defendants are facing charges from murder to public violence following the August 16th shootings, in which 34 striking workers were killed and 78 wounded by police.Police are investigating each of the 34 killings and are also looking into allegations that more than 150 of the arrested miners have been beaten in police custody.Relatives and friends gathered outside the court on Wednesday."We feel sad, the court is too long now, and at the prison we hear that the situation is not right, it's not good. They are threatening them, even other mine workers are sick now," said protester, Primrose Sonti, a store manager at the Lonmin platinum mine.Other detainees arrested at Marikana have already appeared in court, and further sessions are expected to be held in the coming days.Some of those arrested are thought to be sick with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) or diabetes, and lacking access to medication while they are in custody.In the fallout from the killings, the bitter mine strike has strengthened.Only 13 percent of workers reported for duty Monday - down from 30 percent on Friday and 50 percent on Saturday.Lonmin has suffered a serious hit to its share price and has said it probably cannot meet debt payments, due next month, because of the strike.Miners are repeating their demands for a minimum mining monthly wage of 12,500 rand (1,560 US dollars), up from 5,500 rand (690 US dollars)."These guys, they were innocent. Even now they are innocent because they were only fighting for their rights," said Sonti about the defendants.Earlier this week, President Jacob Zuma was grilled by the African National Congress national executive committee over the police shootings.The worst display of state violence since apartheid ended in 1994 has shocked the nation and damaged the reputation of Zuma and his governing ANC, already fractured over Zuma's bid for re-election as party president in December.Zuma's enemies say the police shootings highlight what they say is the party's disregard for the poor.The ANC has been unable to stem massive unemployment(****END****) VIDEO PRODUCER: Alva French---------------------------VIDEO SOURCE: AP TELEVISION -----------------------VIDEO APPROVAL: Donna Starddard----------------------------VIDEO RESTRICTIONS: AP CLIENTS ONLY----------------------------------MARKET EMBARGO (S): NONE--------------------------------