SOUTH AFRICA — Religious leaders attend a memorial service yesterday in Marikana to commemorate the Marikana massacre. Today marks a year after police opened fire on thousands of strikers at platinum producer Lonmin’s mine northwest of Johannesburg which killed 34 and injured 78 people. The August shooting was described as the worst police brutality since the end of apartheid two decades ago. Three days before the commemoration the firm has recognised radical labour group AMCU, which led the wage strike, in an attempt to ease simmering inter-union tensions on the platinum belt.— AFP.
MARIKANA — South Africa has marked the first anniversary of the deaths of 34 people killed during a wage-related strike at a platinum mine in Marikana last year. More than 5 000 people yesterday filled the field around the two hills outside Marikana where many of the killings took place last year.
The victims, 34 of them miners at the platinum mine in the North-West province, were shot and killed by police in a crackdown reminiscent of the apartheid-era police brutality. Seventy-eight people were injured in the violence.
Police said they opened fire on the miners in self-defence.
The killing of the 34 miners was preceded by the deaths of 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards.
The strike began on August 10 last year when Lonmin rock drillers pressed demands for a monthly salary of US$1 251 .
More workers joined the strike and the protesters gathered at a hill near Nkaneng informal settlement carrying weapons, such as pangas, spears, knobkerries, and iron rods, according to the Sowetan newspaper.
Speakers on yesterday’s commemoration ceremony, especially representatives of the church, reiterated a message of peace and reconciliation.
The mood at the commemoration was festive at time but miners say they haven’t forgotten what happened last year.
They said they have not given up on their original demand of a monthly salary of the equivalent of US$1 250.
Meanwhile, the ruling ANC party and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) as well as government were conspicuous in their absence at the commemoration which was attended by various opposition parties, members of civil society and families of the deceased.
Their absence has been interpreted as a snub and is set to further politicise the massacre.
Meanwhile, the Marikana mine owners said “sorry” to the families of the slain workers. Several violent deaths in the area following the Lonmin strike have been blamed on rivalry between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the NUM.
Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president, set up a commission of inquiry chaired by retired Judge Ian Farlam to investigate the massacre.
The commission of inquiry began holding public hearings in October 2012. — Al Jazeera.
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