Marikana - Workers trickled in Tuesday at the Lonmin [JSE:LON] platinum mine where 44 people have died in a wildcat strike, as South Africa urged the company to suspend an ultimatum to return to work.
The world's third-largest platinum miner gave 3 000 workers on an illegal strike until 07:00 on Tuesday to return to the job or face dismissal.
It has also urged its other 25 000 employees at the mine to come back, insisting on their safety.
Ten people were killed in inter-union clashes after the strike began on August 10, leading to a police crackdown Thursday that saw 34 armed miners gunned down.
Several police vans patrolled the area as workers arrived in drips and drabs. Lonmin said 27% of the workforce took up their tools on Monday.
But Collins Chabane, chief of the president's office, speaking on national radio shortly after the deadline passed, urged Lonmin to suspend its ultimatum until all the victims of the police shooting were identified and buried.
"In our discussion with the mine management, we did express to them and we thought they understood, that at this point in time I think we need to try to temper the flare-up of emotions on all sides and try to find a reasonable solution to address the problems," he said.
"And therefore in the context of the mourning of the people who passed away as a result of this strike, we thought it was important for them to consider the issue of suspending the deadline, and we thought they had agreed, and we will confirm with them this morning what happened."
President Jacob Zuma has declared a week of mourning with nationwide memorials planned for Thursday.
Six bodies have yet to be identified, but authorities said they hoped that the process would be completed by Wednesday in time for the memorials.
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