Memorial services held for South African miners killed during strike

The day should be an opportunity for the nation to 'mourn and promote a violence-free society,' said South Africa President Zuma in a statement. Still the question remains: Who is responsible for the shooting?

Denis Farrell/AP
Mourners attend a memorial service at the Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, Thursday, after police shot and killed 34 striking miners and wounded 78 last week. Demands for higher wages spread to at least two other mines, raising fears of further protests at more South African mines that provide most of the world's platinum.

Grieving families are mourning at memorial services for 34 striking miners killed by police, as the nation in shock asks who gave the orders and who must be blamed.

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

1,000 people in Marikana

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 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 told the AP.

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," 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.

Zuma did not attend any memorials

The day should be an opportunity for the nation to "mourn and promote a violence-free society," said Zuma in a statement. The president did not attend any of the memorials.

Zuma on Wednesday 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.

Zuma 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'

"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, 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.

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