Lonmin pledges to bury S.African mineworkers, aid families
8/17/2012 8:00:02 PM -
JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Lonmin, the world's number three platinum producer, on Friday pledged to help identify and bury 34 mineworkers killed by police during a protest over wages, the deadliest since the end of apartheid.
Lonmin said it would set up a help desk at the firm's local hospital at Marikana to help families in identifying the bodies and offer counselling.
"We are committed to supporting all the families that lost loved ones during this tragic week," Lonmin chief financial officer Simon Scott said in a statement.
On Thursday afternoon, police opened fire on a group of striking Lonmin workers camped on a hill outside the mine, in a wildcat strike that started seven days ago at the Marikana platinum mine in the North West province.
Police said 78 people were injured during the gunfight. Television footage of the killings have shocked the nation, with politicians and social commentators comparing it to the police massacres of the apartheid era.
The workers were demanding a tripling of their wages from the current 4,000 rand ($486, 400 euros) a month.
They had been demanding to be addressed by mine bosses and resisted calls by union leaders to return to work.
Lonmin also offered to cover the education costs of the children of the dead miners, from primary school to university.
"A stable mining sector is vital to the economic future of this country. If the industry continues to be damaged by illegal actions it is not just the economy which suffers, but all our employees, their families and dependents," Scott said.
"We need our employees to come back to work and we need to get mining again."