South Africa's President Jacob Zuma (L) chats with one of the injured miners during a courtesy visit in a hospital outside a South African mine in Rustenburg, 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, August 17, 2012. South African Police were forced to open fire to protect themselves from charging armed protesters at the Marikana mine, and 34 of the protesters were killed, Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega said on Friday. She told a news conference that 78 people were injured and 259 arrested in Thursday's violence. REUTERS/Kopano Tlape/Government Communications and Information Systems (GCIS)/Handout

The ANC has welcomed President Jacob Zuma's establishment of an inquiry into the death of protesters at the Lonmin mine in Rustenburg.

“The ANC is of the view that the tragic violence needs to be thoroughly investigated to determine the cause and circumstances of all the deaths including those of police, security and the miners,” spokesman Jackson Mthembu said in a statement on Friday.

“We also call on the community and all unions not to allow themselves to be agitated and instigated by agent provocateurs who won't give peace a chance.”

Zuma announced that he would set up a commission of inquiry into the killing of the workers.

“The inquiry will enable us to get to the real cause of the incident, and to derive the necessary lessons,” Zuma said.

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.

The Methodist Church of Southern African also welcomed the establishment of an inquiry and called for calm as families and the country grieved “this senseless loss of life.

“This is a time for decisive action and we call on the president to provide the necessary leadership,” said the church's Bishop Zipho Siwa.

Earlier, Lonmin mine committed to fund the education of children whose parents died.

The platinum producer said it would also establish a help desk to help the grieving families with identification of their loved ones and burial arrangements. - Sapa