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South Africa prepares memorials for mine deaths

South Africa readied for nationwide memorials to honour the 44 people killed during a wildcat strike at the Lonmin platinum mine, most of them shot by police.

MARIKANA, SOUTH AFRICA // South Africa readied for nationwide memorials to honour the 44 people killed during a wildcat strike at the Lonmin platinum mine, most of them shot by police.

Ceremonies were planned tomorrow in Marikana, 100 kilometres from Johannesburg, where police shot 34 miners in a clash a week ago, said Collins Chabane, chief of the president's office.

"We are looking at the memorial service at Marikana ... there is a decision that there should be a memorial service," Mr Chabane said in an interview on public radio.

A memorial would also be held in the city of Mthatha in the rural Eastern Cape province, home to many of the miners.

"We remember that most of the people come from rural areas and therefore Eastern Cape is preparing for one," said Mr Chabane.

"Ceremonies are going to be held everywhere in the country," he added.

No mass burials were planned, as families from across South Africa picked up the bodies of their loved ones, many of them migrant labourers, for burials at home.

One of the dead was a Lesotho national.

Flags have been flying at half-mast as the nation mourns the deaths.

"We don't want these memorial services to be politicised. We want these memorial services to be free of politics, to be free of rhetoric. Then people can focus on the mourning," Mr Chabane said.

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