PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has declared a period of national mourning to mark “the lives of all South Africans who have died violently, especially the 44 who were killed in incidents in Marikana, North West province” – and is dispatching nine cabinet ministers to the scene of Thursday’s bloodbath.
Zuma urged against “finger-pointing and recrimination” and confirmed the official investigation to be launched into the deadly police shooting would be a full judicial commission of inquiry.
Details of its members, and its terms of reference, would be announced “in a few days’ time”, said Zuma’s spokesman, Mac Maharaj.
The SA flag will be flown at half-mast at home and at the country’s missions abroad from today until Sunday while Zuma has proclaimed Thursday an official day for memorial services to be held around the country to mourn and promote a violence-free society”.
Ten people – including two police officers, two security guards and three National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) shop stewards – were killed in separate incidents since the start of an illegal strike at the Lonmin mine where 34 people died and 78 were injured in a hail of bullets fired by police on Thursday.
“We must this week reflect on the sanctity of human life and the right to life as enshrined in the constitution of the Republic,” Zuma said in a statement released yesterday.
He named the members of a cabinet-led task team he said would arrive in Marikana today.
Led by Minister in the Presidency in charge of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Collins Chabane, the high-level government team comprises Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangi, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, State Security Minister Dr Siyabonga Cwele, Home Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and North West premier Thandi Modise.
They are to help relatives and survivors with a range of tasks, including locating loved ones and burials.
Family members of the victims were yesterday reported to still be struggling to find out information about what had happened to loved ones. Around 78 atrikers were admitted to hospital while more than 250 were reportedly under arrest.
Zuma left Mozambique where he was leading SA’s delegation to the Southern African Development Community summit to return to the country and met with police and visited injured mineworkers on Friday, when he announced there would be a full inquiry.
DA MP and the party spokeswoman on police Dianne Kohler Barnard said the judicial inquiry should look at not only the actions of the police but the unions involved. Among the questions that Kohler Barnard said the inquiry should try and find answers for were who had authorised the use of live ammunition, especially as it had been reported that a police memo issued in the wake of the protests in Ficksburg that left Andries Tatane dead had ordered that rubber bullets be used only as a last resort.
Police ministry spokesman Zweli Mnisi said yesterday that public order policing had been reviewed “to ensure that public protests are effectively managed, with clear guidelines to the police”.
“This should not be misunderstood to imply that armed people should attack police and that police would not defend themselves,” he said.
The judicial commission of inquiry would look at “the whole situation, not just the loss of lives but the situation in its entirety”.
l Lonmin has said it will help with burials and education for the children of affected families but has also issued and ultimatum to the strikers to return to work today or be fired.