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UK protests after South African police shoots dead miners

ACTION:Mine workers at Lonmin Mine in South Africa

OUTRAGED by the police shooting dead 34 striking mine workers in South Africa, a group of British protesters are to picket the England vs South Africa cricket match, scheduled for next Friday (AUG 31) at Kennington Oval.

One of the organisers, Ian Bone, told The Voice the protest would get underway around 10.00 am, the latest in a string of protests in the UK over the killings.

Bone said the demonstrators would also include people of South African heritage.

“We are all massively disgusted with what happened in South Africa,” said Bone, a 65-year-old retired community worker.

The mine workers were on strike to call for better working conditions and higher pay at the platinum producing Lonmin mine in Marikana when they were shot dead by police on August 16.

Their deaths have led to public outcry in the country and around the world. There have already been protests outside the London offices of mining giant Lonmin, a march to South Africa house in London and protests outside the South African embassy in Dublin, Republic of Ireland.


OUTRAGE:A protester in London

Managers at Lonmin Mine in Marikana had threatened to sack workers who remained on strike but have now done a u-turn.

News reports said a faith-based group Bench Marks Foundation has helped arrange talks between striking workers and the mine’s management.

In addition, it is reported that events are being held across South Africa today (AUG 23) to remember the 34 mine workers plus 10 others killed before that incident at the north-western Marikana platinum mine.

South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, also visited the mine, where 78 people were wounded and 250 arrested.

Zuma declared a week of mourning and has also ordered an inquiry to look into what happened during the shootings, which some have said reminds them of the brutal treatment of black people during apartheid, South Africa’s racist white majority regime that was overthrown in 1990.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, also denounced the deaths as a “massacre”.

In an August 17 statement, Lonmin pledged to support the families of those mine workers who died. It said it had provided a help desk to help relatives identify bodies and "assist with all the burial arrangements and offer bereavement counselling".

It added: "Lonmin commits to provide funding for the education of all the children of employees who lost their lives. This funding will cover education costs from primary school to university."


MEMORIAL: People arrive for a memorial service at Lonmin Mine. Several other memorials are being held across South Africa today (AUG 23)

In a follow up statement on August 21, Lonmin said: "The Government of South Africa, Lonmin and the unions are in agreement that the best way to start to rebuild trust is to return to something closer to normality, albeit gently and carefully and in tandem with counselling and support work, and including the financial and logistical support for those affected, that Lonmin and others are undertaking.

"We are working alongside the unions as they also want their members to report for work. Given the traumatic events of the last 10 days this is a delicate process and it will take time for people to come to terms with what has happened. Nothing is being done to risk the continued calm on the ground. Safety and public order are the priorities of everyone involved in this process."


MOURNERS: People listen during the Lonmin Mine memorial

The Independent reported that workers employed by two other mines are now demanding higher wages, raising fears of spreading protests at more South African mines. The country provides 75 per cent of the world's platinum.

Bone told The Voice he and others hope more people will join them for the August 31st protest.

Among protesters will be people who protested against South Africa’s old racist regime at other sporting events such as the Springbok Tour of 1972, he said.

“We felt strongly then and we feel as strongly now,” Bone said.

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