South Africa mourns dead miners
Published 23/08/2012 | 12:12
Grieving families have mourned the deaths of 34 striking miners killed by police, as South Africans demanded the arrests of those who gave the orders for the shootings.
Memorial services were held across the country for the victims of the worst state violence since the end of apartheid in 1994.
Many have called for South Africans to honour all those killed in a country with one of the world's highest murder and rape rates.
More than 1,000 people attended the memorial service arranged by the government in Marikana, 40 miles (70km) north west of Johannesburg.
The relative of a miner killed in last week's shootings at the Lonmin-owned platinum mine said he wants to see some arrests. "If it were me I'd want everyone who was involved in this incident including the mine managers to be arrested, the whole lot of them, because a person's life is not worth money," Ubuntu Akumelisine said.
Mungiswa Mphumza, the sister of a dead miner from Eastern Cape, said she was at peace. "We have accepted everything that has happened and we ask that the dead rest in peace, there is nothing that we can do at the moment, what has happened has happened. God takes what he likes," Ms Mphumza said.
Roger Phillimore, chairman of Lonmin mine company, also offered condolences to the the mourners. "It is with huge sadness that I join with you to mourn the loss of so many of our colleagues. It is unquestionably the saddest loss in the history of this company," Mr Phillimore said.
This was the first time since the shooting that a high-ranking Lonmin official made a public statement.
President Jacob Zuma called on the nation to commemorate not only the miners but all victims of South Africa's violence. The day should be an opportunity for the nation to "mourn and promote a violence-free society", said Mr Zuma in a statement. The president did not attend any of the memorials.
Thirty-four miners were killed last Thursday when police opened fire on charging strikers. Another 10 people, including miners and police officers, died in the days before.