Rustenburg - A commission of inquiry will uncover the truth behind the shootings at the Lonmin mine in Rustenburg where 34 protesters were gunned down this week, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.
“We remain fully committed to ensuring that this country remains a peaceful stable, productive and thriving nation that is focused on improving the quality of life for all,” he told reporters at the Lonmin conference centre.
“It is against this background, that we have to uncover the truth about what happened here. In this regard I have decided to institute a commision of inquiry. It will enable us to get to the real cause of the incident and to derive the necessary lessons today.”
He said the incident was “regrettable”.
“We have all been saddened and dismayed by the events of the past few days and hours around the Marikana mine. These events are not what we want to see or what to become accustomed to in a democracy that is bound by rule of law,” he said.
“We do not expect such incidents, particularly in a country where there is a high level of organisation within the labour movement.”
He offered condolences to the families of the victims.
“Today our thoughts are primarily with the families of those who have lost their lives. As government, as fellow citizens we offer our sincere condolences to all families who have lost their loved ones,” he said.
“The events of the past few days have unfortunately been visited upon a nation that is hard at work addressing... poverty, unemployment and inequality.”
Zuma said South Africans should not resort to blaming each other for the incident.
“Today is not the day for blame or finger pointing... today challenges us to restore calm and share the pain of the affected families and communities,” he said.
“Today is about reminding ourselves of our responsibilities as citizens... We can protest against any institution peacefully. It is one of the cornerstones of our hard won democracy.”
A total of 34 people were killed in a shootout that erupted near the mine on Thursday when police tried to disperse striking miners.
More than 78 people were injured. Another 10 people had by then been killed in the violent protests at the mine over the past week.
The protests were believed to be linked to rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) over recognition agreements at the mine. Workers also wanted higher wages. - Sapa