Family horror at mine deaths video

Graphic video footage of South African police shooting dead 34 protesting mine strikers left the victims' widows weeping inconsolably when it was shown to an official inquest.

The Marikana Commission - which is investigating violence at Lonmin's platinum mines on August 16 as well as related incidents in which up to 46 people were killed- was disrupted by families' grief at the video which shows some of the worst state violence since the end of apartheid since 1994.

Some family members cried and others covered their faces as the video showed strikers being shot down in a hail of bullets. One woman fainted and was carried out of the hall.

Ian Farlam, a retired judge who is heading the commission, quickly apologised for showing the footage without warning family members.

Earlier a lawyer for more than 200 miners claimed that South African police and mine owners plotted to kill striking miners.

Dali Mpofu told the commission that the killing of miners "was premeditated murder of defenceless people."

Among other evidence, he presented an email sent on August 15 by South African businessman Cyril Ramaphosa to Lonmin company executives in which he wrote of "dastardly criminal acts" by striking miners and called for "concomitant action." Mr Ramaphosa is an influential member of South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress. He is sometimes touted as a future leader of the country.

South African police insist they acted in self-defence when they shot and killed the protesting strikers and wounded more than 70.

Ishmael Semenya, a lawyer for the police, told the commission that the police had not been adequately prepared for confrontations with striking miners armed with crude weapons. He said the striking miners wanted a "bloodbath."

The striking Marikana miners later got a pay rise of up to 22%. Their wage gains inspired a wave of wild-cat strike action across South Africa. Some of the strikes at gold and platinum mines remain unresolved.