Johanensburg - The police ministry on Friday denied reports that Minister Nathi Mthethwa said an investigation into the alleged political manipulation of mine workers was underway.

“We dismiss such allegations, the minister has not made such a remark,” Mthethwa's spokesman Zweli Mnisi said.

“We have said that there is a commission of inquiry that is investigating the Marikana tragedy. Let us allow it space to conduct its work,” he said.

Business Day reported on Friday that Mthethwa said an investigation was underway into the suspected political manipulation of miners. Cabinet ministers, industry heads and analysts reportedly believed the labour instability in the platinum sector was being orchestrated.

On Thursday, President Jacob Zuma announced the three-member judicial commission of inquiry into last week's violence at Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, North West. Thirty-four miners were killed and 78 wounded when police tried to disperse them. In the preceding week another 10 people were killed in violent protests at the mine.

Retired Supreme Court of Appeal judge Ian Farlam will chair the commission. He will be joined by senior advocates Bantubonke Tokota and Pingla Hemraj.

The protests were believed to be linked to rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union over recognition agreements at the mine.

On Thursday the government held an official memorial for the victims of the shootings. However, a group calling themselves Friends of the Youth League, which supports expelled youth leader Julius Malema, organised another one, which Marikana residents attended.

The government was then forced to abandoned its memorial service to join the community's one.

Malema dominated the memorial on Thursday, lambasting government officials and Zuma. He told mourners the government did not do anything for the 34 dead miners.

“Under democracy our people will be protected. But government has turned against its people,” Malema said.

He accused members of government of attending the memorial service to pose for news cameras. The ministerial delegation left the memorial service after Malema spoke.

During a visit with mineworkers earlier this week Malema urged protesting miners not to retreat and to stand firm on their demand for a R12 500 salary.

Sapa