People should not seek to score political points from last week's mine violence in Marikana, Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba told a memorial service on Thursday.
"These are God's people, we need to respect the dignity and sanctity of their lives," he said.
A few men, introduced as community leaders, were invited to sit on the stage in a marquee erected for the service to honour the dead miners in Marikana.
When a leader from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) arrived with a group of men, some carrying sticks, the crowd started murmuring and whispering.
Thirty-four people were killed and 78 injured when police shot at striking workers at Lonmin mine last Thursday. Another 10 people were killed in violent protests the preceding week.
The protests were believed to be linked to rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers and the Amcu over recognition agreements at the mine.
Several political leaders attended the service. Expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema was seen holding hands with United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa and suspended ANCYL secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa.
The mourners were asked to hold hands during a prayer to show their unity. Praying for the injured, a priest said: "Heal us as well." He and several other clerics took turns in leading the service in prayer.
As this continued, some mourners closed their eyes, some held onto each other, others held hands.
Photographers and reporters also held hands.
Those in attendance included Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Co-operative Governance Minister Richard Baloyi, North West premier Thandi Modise and Rustenburg mayor Mpho Khonou.