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S. Africans begin week of mourning for victims killed at platinum mine

08-20-2012 17:55 BJT

CAPE TOWN, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- South Africans began a week of mourning on Monday to commemorate the lives of those who died in violent clashes at a platinum mine.

Flags will fly at half-mast at all flag stations in South Africa and missions outside the country during the period of mourning from August 20 to August 26, the government said.

Zuma declared the Week of Mourning on Sunday following clashes between police and striking miners at the Lonmin Platinum Mine in Marikana, Northe West Province last Thursday. The clashes left 34 miners killed and 78 others wounded.

Apart from the 34 protestors killed on Thursday, 10 others have also been killed -- including two police officers -- in nearly a week of fighting between rival worker factions. Authorities linked the violence to rivalry between two unions -- the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which have been vying for control of the miners.

"The nation is in shock and in pain. We must this week reflect on the sanctity of human life and the right to life as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic, " Zuma said.

Zuma also declared August 23 as the official day for memorial services to be held across the country to mourn and promote a violence-free society.

Thousands of miners had been protesting since Aug. 10 at the mine to press their demand for better working conditions and a rise in salaries.

Police, who were deployed at the mine to monitor the situation, fired on striking miners after being attacked by a group of militant miners, authorities said.

As police and trade unions blamed each other for the incidents, Zuma said finger-pointing would not help.

"We must avoid finger-pointing and recrimination. We must unite against violence from whatever quarter. We must reaffirm our belief in peace, stability and order and in building a caring society free of crime and violence," he said.



Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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