South Africa's Jacob Zuma visits Marikana mine

Jacob Zuma at Marika mine (22 August 2012) President Jacob Zuma has distanced the government from the killings

Related Stories

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has visited the Lonmin-owned Marikana mine where police shot dead 34 striking workers last week.

Angry protesters chanted "Down with the police" as Mr Zuma promised a thorough investigation into the killings.

The miners embarked on a strike on 10 August to demand higher wages, forcing the mine's closure.

Religious leaders have brokered talks between management and workers to resolve the dispute.

Police opened fire on the strikers on Thursday, after accusing them of instigating violence.

Start Quote

The inquiry I have instituted will get to the bottom of what happened here”

End Quote Jacob Zuma South Africa's president

South Africa's Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu Archbishop Tutu, in a column in South Africa's Business Report newspaper, said the violence reminded him of police behaviour during apartheid.

"When we consigned apartheid to history, we said never again would it happen that our police and our soldiers would massacre our people," he said.

However, he acknowledged that police faced a difficult job, as protests often turned violent.

"When we march, we demand, we destroy and we loot. We care not whether our demands are reasonable, or what actions we take," Archbishop Tutu said.

'Under pressure'

On Wednesday, about 600 workers at the nearby Royal Bafokeng Platinum Mine in North West province also embarked on a strike to demand higher wages.

Rock drill operators, who led the Lonmin strike, gathered peacefully at the mine to demand a wage increase as a handful of police stood by, AFP news agency reports.

"The inquiry I have instituted will get to the bottom of what happened here," Mr Zuma told the strikers at Lonmin.

A striking mine worker holds an axe outside the Marikana mine (15 August 2012) The miners are demanding higher wages

"Those saying our government gave orders to kill are misinformed because it will never be our policy to harm those we represent."

The BBC's Nomsa Maseko in South Africa's main city, Johannesburg, says Mr Zuma was under pressure to go to the mine and address the workers.

Opposition leaders and the expelled youth leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, Julius Malema, visited the mine on Tuesday.

Mr Malema, who has been campaigning for the nationalisation of mines, blamed Mr Zuma for the violence.

The Bench Marks Foundation, a faith-based group which monitors corporate performance, said it had organised talks between Lonmin and worker representatives.

"So far the process was very cordial and both parties listened to each other," the organisation's chairman, Jo Seoka, said.

"Negotiations started... to give the workers a platform to present their grievances and demands."

On Tuesday, Lonmin dropped its threat to fire workers if they failed to end their strike.

The miners say they are currently earning between 4,000 and 5,000 rand ($484-$605) a month and want their salary increased to 12,500 rand.

The company says most workers are paid about 10,500 rand, if bonuses are added.

Are you in the area? What do you think of the strike? Send us your comments using the form below.

If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories

RSS

Features

  • NS Savannah, 1962Nuclear dream

    The ship that totally failed to change the world


  • Irvine WelshScots missed

    Five famous Scots who can't vote in the Scottish referendum


  • Balloons flying upUp, up and away

    Why the ever rising pound is not all good news


  • Espresso cup7 days quiz

    Which city serves the strongest cup of coffee?


  • Jean-Luc CourcoultGiant strides

    The enigmatic Frenchman behind Liverpool's 25ft grandmother


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.