Miners mourned across South Africa

 

Grieving families were mourning today at memorial services for 34 striking miners killed by police, as South Africa asked who gave the orders and who must be blamed.

Memorial services are being held across the country to honour all those killed violently in a country with one of the world's highest murder and rape rates.

More than 1,000 people attended the memorial service in Marikana arranged by the government.

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.

President Jacob Zuma called on the nation to commemorate not only the miners but all victims of South Africa's violence.

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.

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.

Mr Zuma last night demanded that mine companies provide decent homes and sanitation for miners. He singled out one mining house where 666 workers share four toilets and four showers, according to the Star newspaper. He did not name the company.

Mr Zuma also warned that those who do not comply with the Mining Charter requiring adequate housing risk losing their licenses.

The president said it was not a time for pointing fingers in last week's shooting deaths.

"I won't judge the incident. The judicial commission of inquiry will do so," he said at a lecture in North West Province, home to the country's troubled platinum mines.

Expelled African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema, a fierce critic of the Zuma administration, attended the memorial.

Earlier this week, Mr Malema joined miners as they went to file a criminal case of murder against the police for the shootings.

Other memorial services are held around the country, including a service arranged by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, one of the unions included in the dispute.

AP

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