Another one to file under "Orwell would shit." From BBC News, Aug. 30:
Workers arrested at South Africa's Marikana mine have been charged in court with the murder of 34 of their colleagues shot by police.
The 270 workers would be tried under the "common purpose" doctrine because they were in the crowd which confronted police on 16 August, an official said.
Police opened fire, killing 34 miners and sparking a national outcry.
The decision to charge the workers was "madness", said former ruling ANC party youth leader Julius Malema.
"The policemen who killed those people are not in custody, not even one of them. This is madness," said Mr Malema, who was expelled from the ANC (African National Congress) earlier this year following a series of disagreements with President Jacob Zuma.
"The whole world saw the policemen kill those people," Mr Malema said, adding that he would ask defence lawyers to make an urgent application at the high court.
Johannesburg's Mail & Guardian adds:
The "common purpose" doctrine was used by former apartheid forces against black activists fighting against National Party rule…
The best known case was that of the "Upington 14", who were sentenced to death in 1989 for the murder of a policeman in 1985.
Here's how the AP reported the overturning of convictions in the Upington 14 case on May 30, 1991:
The country's highest court today overturned the death sentences of 14 blacks convicted of murder in the 1985 killing of a policeman.
Three judges on the appeal court in the central city of Bloemfontein ordered 11 of the so-called Upington 14 released today. Murder convictions for the other three were upheld, and they received prison terms ranging from 8 to 12 years.
The case has drawn international attention from anti-apartheid campaigners. They argued that defendants did not deserve murder convictions simply because they were part of an angry crowd that stoned and burned to death a police officer, Lucas Sethwala, near the northwest town of Upington, on Nov. 13, 1985.
Those convicted include Evelina de Bruin, a grandmother who was the only woman on death row in South Africa. Her conviction was changed from murder to public violence and she was freed.
"One is just thrilled that justice, in a sense, has been done," said Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu, the anti-apartheid campaigner and Nobel Peace laureate. "It just shows how scandalous the judgment was."
South Africa has abolished the death penalty, so those accused in the Marikana massacre won't face that. But the current case is nonetheless more Orwellian than that of the Upington 14. The accused are being charged with violence that they themselves were the victims of. Meet the New Boss, indeed…