Striking miners sing, chant, march and dance with weapons at the Lonmin mine near Rustenburg. Photo: AP

North West - An eerie silence hung over Lonmin's Marikana mine on Friday, following deadly clashes between the police and protesters the previous day.

The area seemed quiet, except for police clustered at the bottom of the hill where striking miners had established their base prior to the massacre in which more than 30 people died.

A newly-erected razor wire fence divided the hill from the nearby informal settlement.

By 7am, two lone residents had emerged from their dwellings and, glancing at the police nyalas outside, they made their way to the road to catch a taxi.

On Friday morning, movement on the road to the area was unrestricted, in contrast to the previous day, when mine security guards manned two checkpoints and questioned journalists.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa told Talk Radio 702 on Friday that more than 30 people were killed and that “many” more were injured.

“Police did everything they could… but people (miners) said they were not leaving and are prepared to fight,” he said.

North West health department spokesman Tebogo Lekgethwane said 25 bodies had been removed from the scene and taken to the Phokeng Forensic Mortuary.

On Thursday, Captain Dennis Adriao said police had to use force to protect themselves.

“The SA Police Service was viciously attacked by the group, using a variety of weapons, including firearms,” he said.

“The police, in order to protect their own lives and in self-defence, were forced to engage the group with force.”

The deaths followed those of 10 people - two police officers, two security guards, three protesters and three other men - killed since protests began at the mine a week ago.

The protests are 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.

Workers also wanted higher wages. They claimed to be earning R4 000 a month, with those living outside the hostel earning an extra R1 000. Reported demands have included pay of R12 500 a month. - Sapa