International

Day Of Mourning For Slain South African Miners

Mine workers attend a memorial service in South Africa Thursday, Aug. 23, for miners killed last week by police officers. i i

Mine workers attend a memorial service in South Africa Thursday, Aug. 23, for miners killed last week by police officers. Themba Hadebe/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Themba Hadebe/AP
Mine workers attend a memorial service in South Africa Thursday, Aug. 23, for miners killed last week by police officers.

Mine workers attend a memorial service in South Africa Thursday, Aug. 23, for miners killed last week by police officers.

Themba Hadebe/AP

More than a thousand people turned out for a huge memorial service for the 34 miners killed by police at a South African platinum mine last Thursday. Questions are still being raised as how the tragedy occurred. Police say they fired in self defense on miners armed with machetes and clubs; miners say they were running from tear gas that police had thrown at them.

Protests increased in August as miners at the Lonmin platinum mine demanded higher wages and better living conditions. In addition to the 34 slain miners, 10 people, including two police officers, were killed in strike related clashes, says AP.

Today's memorial service was so emotional that the South African Broadcasting Corporation reports the South African government gave up plans to hold its own memorial and joined the event organized by the community around the Lonmin mine.

Anger against the Lonmin mine is high, but there's also animosity between two rival mine unions, notes Reuters, as workers push to improve their wages and living standards. Lonmin also enraged striking workers the day after the shooting by threatening to fire them if they didn't go back on the job. The company dropped that demand, says Bloomberg.

Now workers in at least two more South African platinum mines are demanding higher wages: Amplats and Royal Bafokeng Platinum, according to the Wall Street Journal. South African President Jacob Zuma has met with relatives of the victims of the Lonmin shooting and promised a government investigation: the Journal reports he was heckled.

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