Crosses placed in 2012 for the 34 miners killed in the Marikana shooting in Rustenburg. Picture: EPA

Marikana - A ceremony to remember 44 people who died at Lonmin's Marikana operations in the North West six years ago has started in Mooinooi outside of Brits.

Thirty- four mineworkers were shot by the South African police on 16 August 2012, with a further 78 wounded and 275 were arrested. Ten people, including six mineworkers, two Lonmin security officers and two policemen, were killed in days leading up to the August 16 massacre.

Mineworkers at Lonmin mine in Marikana had staged a week-long wildcat strike, demanding R12 500 as a minimum monthly salary.

In his welcoming address on Wednesday, Lonmin stakeholder relation manager Victor Tseke said the week leading up to August 16 in 2012, had changed their lives forever.

"This is the week that changed our lives, we lost our colleagues." 

A moment of silence was observed and a candle lit in memory of the people who died in August 2012. This was followed by prayers.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said to mark the 6th anniversary of the Marikana tragedy he had requested President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare August 16 Marikana Memorial Day, to be commemorated each year in honour of the workers who were killed in Marikana.

"The President is empowered, through proclamation, to declare any day to be observed and commemorated and I implore him to do the right thing and declare tomorrow (Thursday) a commemorative day.

"While similar calls to former President Jacob Zuma fell on deaf ears, we trust that President Ramaphosa will act differently and cede to this request in honour of those who died. This need not be a difficult decision for an administration that has posited itself as a ‘New Dawn'," Maimane said.

"Healing wounds means more than last month’s R100 million settlement offer by the ANC government to families of the victims for general damages. Closure cannot be bought.

"Our call will never exist in isolation. The Marikana tragedy will forever be a stain on our national conscience and many in society, including trade unions and political parties, believe that tomorrow should be honoured accordingly,"  Maimane said.

African News Agency/ANA