South Africa: North West Relatives Gather At Hospital

Rustenburg — Families and friends continued to arrive at Lonmin's Marikana mine on Friday in the hope of tracking down people who went missing, after 34 people were killed in a clash with police.

"I have been trying to call my brother since yesterday and his phone is off," said Vuyani Feni outside the Andrew Saffy Memorial Hospital, on the grounds of the platinum mine.

"I don't know whether he is alive or dead, or if he is in prison," said Feni.

Thirty four people were killed, 78 injured, and 259 arrested after police fired on a group of protesters near the mine on Thursday afternoon, National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega said at a media briefing at the mine.

Jacobeth Rapoo said she was at the hospital looking for her partner, who she has a child with.

She left the hospital disappointed because she hadn't heard any news about him.

Feni said they were disappointed with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) for not securing higher wages for workers, and in the mine for always "preaching" safety but not protecting them.

He was also disappointed with the police, saying the Lonmin workers felt they were protected when they saw police were present.

Gcobani Tiya, also trying to find a relative since he had arrived at the Rustenburg mine from Bethal after not being able to make contact by phone, complained that he was being sent from pillar to post.

He had been sent to a police station where he saw a large group of people in a truck who had been arrested. Not seeing his relative there, he left as they were led into the police station.

"I wish they would release a statement or a list that has all the deceased's names, or tell us which hospitals our relatives are in, because we are going from pillar to post," said Tiya.

He complained that the mine and police appeared to be giving information to the media, but not to families.

A hospital official said some of the people who were wounded in the shooting on Thursday had been sent to hospitals in Johannesburg, central Rustenburg, and Pretoria.

She said she was not allowed to speak to the media and asked not to be named by journalists who had heard her speaking to the people gathered.

Meanwhile, Marthinus Barnard, who farms in the area, said land owners were "fed up" with the mine.

"People can't approach the mine. The mine shuts them out. And they cannot approach government. Government has been called, [but] they never come," he said.

"All I can say is that the miners have it hard. I understand their frustration."

The people who died were among a group of protesters who went on strike last Friday.

Another 10 people, including police officers and security guards, have died in separate incidents since the unrest began.

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InFocus

Anger Over Mine Killings in South Africa

Striking workers at Lonmin's Marikana mine. The shooting erupted when police sought to disperse armed, striking workers who had gathered on a hill, in the area that had already seen several deaths in violent protests in the past week.

The police chief says that police officers were forced to shoot the 34 striking miners after a series of violent protests at one of the world's largest platinum-producing mines. Read more »