Bishop slams Lonmin bosses at Marikana memorial service

Family members cried and collapsed at a memorial service on Thursday for the 34 miners shot dead during a protest at Lonmin Platinum mine in Marikana in the North West last week. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Family members cried and collapsed at a memorial service on Thursday for the 34 miners shot dead during a protest at Lonmin Platinum mine in Marikana in the North West last week. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Bishop Johannes Seoka told mourners at the service in Wonderkop that profits must not be made at the expense of workers, while slamming Lonmin management for allowing their workers to live in “filth and rubbish with no assistance”.

Read the liveblog of the Lonmin mine shooting here

More than a thousand Wonderkop residents and dozens of clergymen and priests had gathered under a white marquee at the edge of the informal settlement, at the service on Thursday for the 34 miners shot dead during a protest at Lonmin Platinum mine in Marikana in the North West last week.

A second marquee was placed alongside the larger one to accommodate the overflow of mourners. Those without a place to sit carried umbrellas to shield themselves from the morning sun.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi put on surgical gloves to help treat mourners who collapsed at the service.

Paramedics had their hands full as mourners became emotional during the service.

 

Priests took the stage and led the mourners in hymns before leading them along in cries of "hallelujah".

"Let us not kill one another ... forgive, do not [take] revenge," said Seoka.

It was time for politicians to stop using the tragedy to score political points, he said.

"Our politicians, please ...
do not score cheap political points through this tragedy. These are God's people."

SABC radio news reported that the government had abandoned plans to hold its memorial service to join the community's service instead.

Expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, wearing sunglasses and chewing gum, sat in front with the widows and older women, with suspended  league secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, next to United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa. 

Several women collapsed in tears when they saw jackets, blankets and shoes, which had been worn by the slain workers, on display at the service. One of the woman had to be carried out of the memorial service after being overcome with grief.

Week of mourning
Also attending the service were Motsoaledi, former youth league spokesperson Floyd Shivambu, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, Co-operative Governance Minister Richard Baloyi, North West premier Thandi Modise and Rustenburg mayor Mpho Khonou.

A large stage, with banks of speakers, was erected on the site where the shooting took place last Thursday. Musical instruments were laid out on the stage.

Flags continued to fly at half mast throughout the country in the national week of mourning.

The death toll from the week of Marikana violence stood at 44, including the 34 miners and another 10 people who were killed during the protest, including two policemen and two security guards.

In Gauteng, premier Nomvula Mokonyane was expected to lead a service later in the afternoon in Johannesburg. The service would be held in the Johannesburg City Hall.

Wits University would observe the day by marching against violence at its Braamfontein campus. The march would start at the Great Hall and end on Jan Smuts Avenue. 

President Jacob Zuma, who did not attend the service in Marikana, is expected to announce the terms of reference for the commission of inquiry into the shooting at 2pm. – Additional reporting by Nickolaus Bauer

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