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South African president declares national mourning for 44 killed at platinum mine

08-20-2012 04:06 BJT

JOHANNESBURG, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- South African President Jacob Zuma on Sunday afternoon announced he will launch the national mourning for 44 people lost at the Marikana mine conflicts.

From Aug. 20 to Aug. 26, a week-long national mourning will be held for commemorating all South Africans who died violently, especially those people who were killed at the Marikana mine, the president said.

On Thursday afternoon, the fatal shootout erupted as several hundred police attempted to disperse several thousand striking miners at the Marikana mine in the northern province of the North West, leaving 34 people dead and over 78 injured.

It was the deadliest conflict between police and protestors since the apartheid ended in South Africa in 1994.

On Aug. 10, about 3,000 drilling miners at the mine started protests, demanding their wage increase. However, the protests turned into violence in the following days, claiming 10 lives before the shootout, including two police officers, two security guards, three protestors and three other men.

The president said the nation was in shock and pain. "We must reflect the sanctity of human life and the right to life as enshrined in the constitution," he said.

Zuma said the flags will be hoisted at half mast in South Africa and missions abroad during the national mourning week.

"Thursday will be the official day for memorial service to be held around the country to mourn," the president declared.

Zuma appealed to the public that all South Africans should be united against violence, saying "we must reaffirm our belief in peace, stability and order and in building a caring society free of crime and violence."

On Friday evening, Zuma issued an order to probe the Marikana mine shootout incident, saying it was a day to mourn together as a nation and to start rebuilding and healing.

Editor:Zhang Jianfeng |Source: Xinhua

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