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Marikana remembers fallen miners

Thousands are expected at the Marikana Mine to pay tribute to 34 miners who were killed.

Lonmin miners gather ahead of one year anniversary at Lonmin's Marikana mine where 34 striking platinum workers were shot dead by police on 16 August 2012. Picture: Gia Nocolaides/EWN

MARIKANA - It's been one year since 34 mineworkers were killed at Lonmin's Marikana Platinum Mine and a commemoration ceremony to mark the anniversary of their deaths is underway.

Thousands have gathered to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in strike violence on 16 August 2012.

Hundreds of miners, most of them wearing green Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) t-shirts, are singing and marching just below the koppie where the 34 miners were killed.

The miners say they feel many of their colleagues died in vain as nothing has changed 12 months later.

This commemoration will be seen as an event arranged exclusively by Amcu with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the African National Congress (ANC) boycotting the event.

The NUM's Frans Baleni says the union's leaders decided to boycott the event because they didn't think their member would be safe.

"We have lost 21 people, who have been killed. One of the concerns raised was our safety. There's a song which these people have been singing [called] 'How can we kill the NUM' and 'How can we kill these leaders'. In such an environment, where we are not part of the planning, is it not going to be an ambush? We are going to be killed."

It's understood Amcu Leader Joseph Mathunjwa was on his way to the scene of the commemorations.

MINE VIOLENCE DEATHS

It remains unclear how many more people have been killed in mine related violence on the troubled platinum belt.

Both the NUM and Amcu have reported the killings and ongoing intimidation of their members as tensions remain high.

Police in the North West have been carrying out several raids in townships surrounding the mines since last year's shooting and dozens of people have since been arrested.

The police's Thulani Ngubane says they are only investigating 15 cases, not all of which are related to mining.

"These are some sporadic cases that have been happening continuously. Some are related to issues between mineworkers. But some are criminal cases."

But the rival unions are both disputing that figure, saying the number of people killed is much higher.

MARIKANA COMMISSION FUNDING

Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court is expected to rule on whether the state should provide funding for Advocate Dali Mpofu and his legal team who are representing the injured and arrested miners at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry.

The inquiry has been postponed several times this year and has been criticised for its slow progress.

The ruling is expected at 2pm today.

Click here for a visual journey of the Marikana story.