There has been an international outcry since the miners were held after 34 of their colleagues, who had been taking part in an illegal strike were shot dead by police in Marikana.

A controversial apartheid-era law meant the miners were deemed to have had a “common purpose” in the murder of their co-workers, accused of provoking police to open fire.

This law was used in the past by the white-minority apartheid regime to crack down on its black opponents, and there was public outcry at its use after last month’s violent incident.

The murder charges have only been withdrawn provisionally, as the investigation is still ongoing, but the miners will be released from prison starting this week.

‘Final charges will only be made once all investigations have been completed. The murder charges against the current 270 suspects will be formally withdrawn provisionally in court,” Nomgcobo Jiba, the acting national director of prosecutions, said in a televised news conference, as reported by The Guardian.

So far no police officers have been charged over the deaths because an inquiry is underway which expected to take several months to complete. Police say they shot at the strikers at Marikana after being advanced on by a crowd of protesters who threatened them with machetes. Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards had been hacked to death before the shooting started.

The current president, Jacob Zuma, is seeking re-election in December, but his popularity had taken a huge hit over the state’s handling of the crisis.