News / Africa

Thousands Mourn South Africa Mine Shooting Victims

Mining community gathers at a hill dubbed the 'Hill of Horror' during a memorial service for miners killed during clashes at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg, 100 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa, August 23, 2012.Mining community gathers at a hill dubbed the 'Hill of Horror' during a memorial service for miners killed during clashes at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg, 100 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa, August 23, 2012.
x
Mining community gathers at a hill dubbed the 'Hill of Horror' during a memorial service for miners killed during clashes at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg, 100 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa, August 23, 2012.
Mining community gathers at a hill dubbed the 'Hill of Horror' during a memorial service for miners killed during clashes at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg, 100 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa, August 23, 2012.
Anita Powell
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Thousands of grieving families, miners, union and government officials gathered Thursday at a troubled platinum mine in South Africa to mourn 34 striking miners killed by police.

Mourners assembled on the dusty plain outside the Lonmin mine that has been nicknamed “South Africa’s killing fields.”

They were there to remember friends, relatives and coworkers who were shot dead by police on that spot a week earlier, on August 16.

Local church leader Daniel Modisenyane attended Thursday's service and said it was grave, but calm. He estimated that some 6,000 people attended.

Modisenyane said the community will struggle to deal with the loss.

“It was not possible for them to forget since this drew global attention to what has happened, since they were all hurt, we could not know how to comfort each of them. They were so hurt, they were so traumatized,” said Modisenyane.

Workers at the mine went on strike for higher wages earlier this month. Growing tension and unrest culminated in last Thursday’s incident.  In all, 44 people, including two policemen, have died on this spot in a week of violence.

South African President Jacob Zuma declared a national week of mourning. Flags are flying at half-staff around the country. The government also has ordered an investigation.

Lonmin issued a message to striking workers Monday: Get back to work, or you’re fired. The mine operators later softened that stance, extended the deadline and have enlisted religious leaders to oversee talks with striking workers.

Lonmin said Thursday it would allow all of its workers - there are about 28,000 at the mine some 100 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg - to attend the service.
 
The company also said it held a minute of silence Thursday morning and that it has set up a bank account to help the families of the dead.

Lonmin Chairman Roger Phillimore said the shooting incident was “unquestionably the saddest loss in the history of this company.” He said the company leadership is grieving and offered condolences to families.

Mining is one of South Africa’s biggest industries. The events at the mine have had international consequences and have affected global platinum prices and Lonmin share prices.

The event also has shaken South Africans who say such violent images of police firing at protesters remind them of the apartheid era.

Church leader Modisenyane said he hopes Thursday’s service will promote reconciliation. He said he will encourage people to forgive.

“It is so important because this will cause them bitterness inside each of them, this will cause them stress, this will cause them another life to come out of this world," said Modisenyane. "So they need to forgive. Since the one who will enable them is the one we are comforting them about: God, no other one.”

Wage negotiations continue between the mining company and striking workers.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs