President Jacob Zuma has declared a period of national mourning to mark the deaths 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.
Included in the week of mourning are the eight members of an anti-stock theft group called Isikebhe who were killed in Pomeroy in KwaZulu-Natal recently.
“The nation is in shock and in pain,” Zuma said in a statement released on Sunday.
He urged against “finger-pointing and recrimination” and confirmed that the official investigation 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 soon, said Zuma’s spokesman, Mac Maharaj.
Zuma proclaimed Thursday as an “official day for memorial services to be held around the country to 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, sending shockwaves around the world.
Zuma also named the members of a high-level government task team he said was due to arrive in Marikana on Monday.
“They will co-ordinate and lead all support to families and relatives, including the identification of family members, counselling and burials.”
Led by Minister in the Presidency in charge of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Collins Chabane, the team comprises Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, 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 Siyabonga Cwele, Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and North West Premier Thandi Modise.
DA MP and the party’s spokeswoman on police, Dianne Kohler Barnard, said the inquiry should look at not only the actions of the police, but also the unions involved.
The NUM and its rival, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, have been trading accusations and counter-accusations in the wake of the incident.
Police ministry spokesman, Zweli Mnisi, said on Sunday 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.”
The judicial commission of inquiry would look at “the whole situation, not just the loss of lives”, Mnisi added.
“As such we would like to respect the process as it unfolds and not pre-empt or pre-judge the outcome of this inquiry,” he said.