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South Africa mourns over 44 people killed in mine clash

By Thuso Khumalo (Xinhua)

08:21, August 24, 2012

RUSTENBURG, South Africa, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of people across South Africa gathered just outside the Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg in the North West province on Thursday for the memorial service of 44 people who died during protests .

On the memorial scene, mothers who lost sons were wailing, and fathers were groaning. Even some other participants could not hold back their tears as miners who survived the shooting narrated what happened on that fateful day.

Among the mourners were the families who lost their loved ones during the protests at the mine, friends, government officials, police and mine bosses.

On Aug. 10, about 3,000 rock drillers at the Lonmin's Marikana mine downed their tools, demanding a wage increase from monthly 4, 000 rands (about 480 U.S. dollars) to 12,500 rands.

They camped on a hill near the mine vowing not to disperse until their demands were met.

During the violence before the shooting, 10 people at the mine were killed, including two security guards and two police officers.

On Aug. 16, police clashed with the protesting miners, and 34 miners were shot dead and 78 people injured.

Phantu Phiri, 49, was one of the miners who were narrow to escape the bullets.

"We were gathering on the hill not fighting but just carrying our traditional weapons. Police wanted us to put down our weapons, but we refused," he recalled.

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