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Fallen miners mourned

Members from a local church mourn on a hill near a site where miners were killed during clashes at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine, ahead of a memorial service.

PRETORIA — South Africans held a memorial service today at a platinum mine where police shot dead 34 strikers, bloodshed that revived memories of apartheid-era violence and laid bare workers’ anger over enduring inequalities since the end of white rule.

Some 500 people crammed into a marquee pitched at the platinum mine, near what has been dubbed the “Hill of Horror” where police shot dead 34 striking miners in the deadliest security incident since apartheid ended in 1994.

Crowds spilled out into the scorched, dusty fields outside, listening to hymns and prayers. Women wrapped in blankets wept and mourners placed flowers at the scene. Other memorials took place around the country, including downtown Johannesburg.

“Such a killing of people, of children, who haven’t done anything wrong and they didn’t have to die this way,” said Baba Goloza whose two sons died. He blamed mine owner Lonmin for not taking care of its workers at its Marikana mine, northwest of Johannesburg.

Violence between rival labour unions exposed deadly levels of anger about low wages and what is seen as political favouritism in Africa’s biggest economy.

Ten people were killed in the turf war between rival unions, including two police officers and a union shop steward hacked to death with machetes.

The incident has highlighted the African National Congress’s failure to ease income disparity which remains among the worst in the world while many of its members are accused of using political connections to get rich. (Reuters)

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