Crowd Rallies Near Site of South African Mine Shooting

Posted August 18th, 2012 at 10:10 am (UTC-5)
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A large group of protesters has peacefully rallied near the site of the South African mine where 34 people were killed Thursday when police opened fire on striking workers.

Demonstrators sang and shouted chants on Saturday as speakers addressed the crowd in Marikana township, northwest of Johannesburg.

Authorities continue to investigate Thursday's shooting, which also left 78 people injured. It is South Africa's deadliest security operation since the end of apartheid.

National police chief Riah Phiyega said her forces opened fire on striking miners in self defense. She said Friday that police used force to protect themselves after coming under attack by strikers armed with “dangerous weapons.”

On Saturday, former African National Congress youth leader Julius Malema urged demonstrators to keep fighting for the causes that were important to the miners who died in the shootings.

“We will not sell their souls out. Their fight remains our fight and therefore, the only way of honoring them is by continuing their struggle to defend the rights of the workers.”

The mine owner, Lonmin PLC is the world's third-largest platinum producer.

About 3,000 people have walked off the job at the Lonmin mine in the past week due to a pay dispute. Miners want their monthly salaries, now averaging about $480, to be tripled.

On Friday, South African President Jacob Zuma ordered an official inquiry into the shootings. He said he was “shocked and dismayed” at what he called “senseless violence.”