19 Aug 2012

Search for missing since mine tragedy

12:44 pm on 19 August 2012

The families of miners shot by South African police on Thursday have been going from hospital to hospital searching for their relatives.

They complain that police and the mine management have failed to produce a register of the 34 dead men and the 78 wounded in the incident at a platinum mine in Marikana, about 100km north-west of Johannesburg.

Police say they are working on a list, using the mine's database to contact the families of those killed, wounded or arrested, but it could take some time.

On Friday, President Jacob Zuma visited the area and announced an inquiry.

A pay dispute at the mine has been worsened by tensions between rival trade unions, which claimed the lives of 10 people, including two police officers, before the tragedy on Thursday.

Police insist they acted in self-defence.

Former ANC youth leader Julius Malema has now entered the affray. During a visit to the mine, he told a crowd of miners that he blamed Mr Zuma for the police handling of the strike.

He claimed Mr Zuma told police to use maximum force against the miners on Thursday.

Mr Malema has been expelled from the African National Congress. He is a proponent of nationalising South Africa's mines.

South Africa is the largest platinum producer in the world and the dispute has already affected production. The mine is owned by Lonmin.

The miners currently earn between 4000 - 5000 rand. They say they want their pay increased to 12,500 rand ($US1512).

South African commentators are comparing the tragedy to Sharpeville when white police fired at a crowd in 1960, killing 69 black protesters.