Memorial services held for South African mine workers

2012-08-23 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Memorial services were held throughout South Africa on Thursday in remembrance of those killed at a platinum mine in the town of Marikana. The 34 mine workers were gunned down last week by police as they were striking for an increase in their pay.

Archbishop of Durban, South Africa, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier spoke Vatican Radio about the impact that the incident has had on the people. “I think there are two words to describe the feeling of most South Africans,” he said. “The first feeling is a feeling of sorrow and disappointment that this has happened. The second feeling I would say is a feeling of shock – shock because we never thought that something like this could happen, and that our police force would be involved in a shooting of so many people.”

Cardinal Napier referred to a similar incident back in the 1960s in the town of Sharpeville, in which around 60 people were killed by police. “The sadness comes from the fact that this has happened at a time when we believed that such actions by the police would not happen again.”

One of the reactions to last the Marikana killings is a renewed awareness on the part of church leaders as the importance of promoting dialogue and ending further violence. “As Churches and as religious leaders,” he said, “we also need to look at the deeper problems that lie in our society at present. And one of the deepest problems, I believe, is that life has lost its meaning, has lost its value, for many people.”

Listen to Davide Maggiore’s full interview with Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Archbishop of Durban, South Africa: