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.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.