South Africa Lonmin killings: 'We are so angry'

Policemen fire at striking miners at the Marikana platinum mine in South Africa on 16 August

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South African President Jacob Zuma has declared a week of national mourning for striking miners killed in violence at a platinum mine on Thursday.

Kitumetse (not her real name) is a resident of Wonderkop village near the Lonmin mine. Here she describes the anger in the local community after last week's incident.

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Women here are going crazy for not knowing what has happened to their loved ones”

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"Our village is right next to the mine, it takes me five minutes to walk there. We all witnessed the shocking events of last week.

My two sisters work at the mine. They were at work when the killing started. They called me to tell me how bad the situation was.

Things are getting worse by the day. I was watching one of my friends yesterday who just found out that their 22-year-old son was dead. They had been looking all over for him for three days.

Until now the police haven't issued a register for the dead or for those who have been arrested. Relatives have to go to the morgue to find out for themselves. Women here are going crazy for not knowing what has happened to their loved ones - and I feel their pain.

I don't blame the policemen for shooting. If they didn't shoot, the miners would have killed them. What the miners did was a despicable barbaric act.

Workers at the mine had been asking for higher wages for so long, the crowd must have [reached] boiling point after no-one listened to them.

'Neglected community'

Lonmin should have intervened a long time ago. They knew about the miners' grievances, they knew about the strike, they knew workers wanted management to come forward, but they didn't intervene and were nowhere to be seen.

Dirty water with sewage in Wonderkop village. Photo: Kitumetse Kitumetse: "We don't have tar roads and they cut our water supply every day"

They dismissed their workers and let this happen. So many people died - fathers, husbands, bread-winners.

Now they are threatening workers that if they don't go back to work, they will be considered strikers and they will lose their jobs.

Because of that, my sisters are going back to work.

I worry about them. There is still a lot of tension. There are police there, masses and masses of them. They are there not to protect the lives of people, but the property of the mine.

We are so angry. They (Lonmin) don't treat us like people.

Lonmin has done nothing for the local community. They take our platinum and enrich themselves but where is our royalty money going? We don't have tar roads and our youth are unemployed.

They cut off our water supply every day during the day. The water comes back only late at night. Then we have to fill the tanks and the buckets to have enough water for the next day. The water stinks and we have to buy purified water.

Lonmin needs to start taking responsibility for their actions and start doing what is right."

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