20 Aug 2012

National mourning declared for slain miners

3:48 pm on 20 August 2012

A week of national mourning has been declared in South Africa by President Jacob Zuma where police killed 34 striking miners on Thursday.

At least 78 people were wounded some 250 people were arrested. An inquiry into the tragedy at the Marikana platinum mine was ordered on Friday.

Flags will fly at half mast at all flag stations in South Africa and missions outside the country during the mourning period, which will last from Monday until next Sunday.

In a statement, Mr Zuma said the nation was in "shock and pain. We must this week reflect on the sanctity of human life and the right to life."

Police insist they acted in self-defence. Two police officers were among 10 other people killed at Marikana before the tragedy.

The mine is owned by Lonmin, which said on Sunday that the miners must be back at work by Monday or risk being dismissed.

The dispute began over a demand for a monthly pay rise from about 4000 rand to 12,500 ($US1499).

On Thursday, Lonmin had said that the strike meant it would lose 15,000 ounces of platinum production. Shares in Lonmin ended the week down more than 10% in London.