Continued from page 1

Defense Minister Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula responded with the first official apology for the killings by police.

“As a representative of the government, I apologize,” Mr. Mapisa-Nqakula said. “I am begging, I beg and I apologize, may you find forgiveness in your hearts.”

South Africa is the world’s leading producer of platinum and ferrochrome, the fourth-largest producer of iron ore and is among the top 10 gold producers in the world.

‘A long process’

On Tuesday, at the dusty site of last Thursday’s police shootings, hundreds of mourners walked barefoot as church leaders blessed the ground, with a Methodist bishop drawing a large cross in the dirt.

“Church members have come to express solidarity in the wake of what really has been a shocking event,” Bishop Gavin Taylor said. “It’s almost indescribable that people could have been killed in this way.”

As others sang hymns, Alakhe Nombeu sobbed. She said that her brother was one of the strikers killed by police volleys of gunfire and that she finally found the name of her missing husband among those arrested Sunday, three days after the shootings.

Two men who survived the mass shooting by police say a traditional healer told the strikers that police bullets would not harm them if they used traditional medicine, a South African newspaper reported as the mining company postponed an ultimatum for workers to return to work.

Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane announced that officials by late Tuesday had identified 33 of the 34 bodies of shot miners, including one man from Lesotho, a mountain kingdom surrounded by South Africa.

Chabane spokesman Harold Maloka said it had taken days to check the mine’s data base, the government data base and ensuring that families were able to identify the men.

“It becomes a long process because some family members were looking for their loved ones and they might not be among the dead at the morgue or the wounded in hospitals,” Mr. Maloka said.

No striking miners will be fired in the week that South Africa officially mourns the killings, the presidency said Tuesday.

Managers of the Lonmin platinum mine had ordered strikers to report for duty by 7 a.m. Tuesday or get fired, even as some family members still were searching for missing loved ones, not knowing whether they were dead or alive among some 250 arrested protesters or in one of the hospitals.

An inter-ministerial committee led by Mr. Chabane convinced managers of Lonmin PLC not to act on the dismissal ultimatum during a week of national mourning that began Monday, according to Mr. Maloka.

Presumed invulnerability

Story Continues →