Mineworkers tell a local newspaper that the killing of a rabbit against the advice of a traditional healer is the reason police shootings killed 34 striking miners and wounded another 78.

The Saturday Star newspaper quoted two miners as saying many more lives would have been lost in last week's police shootings had it not been for the traditional medicine believed to make them invincible to bullets.

The paper quotes mineworker Khabo Khabo as saying the traditional healer had repeatedly warned them not to kill a rabbit that was running around the rocky outcrop where they staged their protests for higher wages at the Lonmin PLC platinum mine.

Khabo said "if we had let the rabbit free, all of the dead would still be alive."