x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Miners killed by police in South Africa are buried

Twenty-six of the 34, who were killed on August 16 when police fired into a crowd of miners on strike, were being buried this weekend.

Mourners attend the funeral of Andries Motlapula Ntsenyeho, one of 34 striking platinum mineworkers shot dead at Lonmin's Marikana mine, at his home town of Sasolburg in South Africa's Free State province yesterday. Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Mourners attend the funeral of Andries Motlapula Ntsenyeho, one of 34 striking platinum mineworkers shot dead at Lonmin's Marikana mine, at his home town of Sasolburg in South Africa's Free State province yesterday. Mike Hutchings / Reuters

MTHATHA, SOUTH AFRICA // South Africa yesterday buried most of the 34 miners killed by police last month during the worst crackdown on protests since apartheid.

Twenty-six of the 34 miners were being buried this weekend.

Meanwhile, lawyers are demanding the release of 270 surviving miners who have been charged with their colleagues' murder under a law used by the former apartheid regime.

The miners were killed on August 16 when police fired into a crowd of miners on strike at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine.

The majority of the killed miners came from the Eastern Cape province. One funeral was held in Mdumazulu village for Phumzile Sokhanyile, a 48-year-old miner, and his mother, who collapsed and died on hearing the news of his death.

Glorious Mamkhuzeni- Sokhanyile, 79, who suffered from asthma and hypertension, had fainted when she learnt of the death of her son, two days after the killings, a family member said.

But it was watching video of the police opening fire on the miners shown a day later on a television news report that led her to her death, said the miner's aunt Thokozile Sokhanyile.

"She saw the images and went 'Ah! That's how my son was killed?' and she collapsed," she added.

Thousands of relatives, workmates and friends had gathered under a white tent yesterday to mourn their deaths.

Only the mother's coffin lay in front with a wreath on top. Phumzile was buried on Friday as soon it was received by the family, according to rites in cases where a person dies of unnatural causes.

The body was not allowed anywhere near his family home and was taken straight to a cemetery, in the belief that this would ward off bad omens.