South Africa Commemorates Marikana Strike Deaths

Political controversy abounds as the African nation remembers the many miners and authorities killed during the 2012 Marikana workers strike.

Posted: 08/16/2013 12:15 PM EDT
South African Miners Commemorate Deaths

South Africa is holding a memorial ceremony to commemorate the 34 workers killed by police during a strike over wages at a platinum mine in Marikana last year. 

The deadly clash marked the nation’s bloodiest labor-related violence since the end of the apartheid era in 1994.

Workers at the Lonmin platinum plant began the week-long, unauthorized strike on Aug. 10 to demand a monthly salary of $1,251. The strike culminated in a massacre when police opened fire into the crowd of protesting workers, sparking additional killings of police and security officers over the next three days.

Originally scheduled to attend, President Jacob Zuma and members of the ruling ANC party pulled out last minute, highlighting the political conflicts between the ANC-allied labor union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the more dominant union for minors in the area, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

As Reuters reports:

The two unions have been involved in a deadly war for members among South Africa's mineworkers, accusing each other of being behind killings of members over the past few months.

At Marikana, thousands of people, many of them wearing green AMCU T-shirts, gathered on and around the rocky outcrop dubbed by media the "Hill of Horror" where the strikers were killed last year, most falling in a hail of police gunfire.

Marikana worker Paulos Mpahlela, 60, expressed anger at the government and ANC's decision to stay away.

"We are hurt, the government should be here. They should have taken the trouble to come and be here because they're the leaders," he said.

Read the full story here.

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(Photo: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)

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