26/07/2012 Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa in an interview at St George Hotel. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Parliament, Cape Town -

Last Thursday's shooting at the Lonmin mine in North West should teach the country to double its efforts to prevent a repeat, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Tuesday.

“It is our responsibility both as individuals and as a nation to ensure that it does not happen again,” he told the National Assembly during a special debate on the shooting that cost at least 34 lives and injured 78 in a clash between police and striking miners.

“Thursday’s event is tragic because many people lost their lives in a manner that could have been avoided if all of us had adhered to the noble principles of our Constitution,” he said.

“Painful moments like these force us to trace our steps back and recall the founding principles of our democratic order. The Constitution of the Republic as adopted in 1996 is our lodestar in the execution of our duties.”

The Constitution guaranteed rights and imposed responsibilities on citizens.

It provided for the right to “peaceful and unarmed assembly, demonstrate, picket and present petition”.

It also enjoined members of the SA Police Service to prevent, combat, and investigate crime, maintain public order, protect and secure citizens and their property, and uphold and enforce the law.

“The police as part of our security services are always and at all material times guided by the Constitution of the Republic,” Mthethwa said.

“The events of Thursday, 16 August 2012, were not sudden eruptions but a culmination of events that were building over months and months.”

Police were saddened by the events in Marikana, and did their best to avert violence. The loss of life among workers and members of the police service was tragic and regrettable.

Government ministries and departments were on the ground, assisting families in identifying the deceased, organising funerals, relief for those in distress, and counselling for the families, Mthethwa said.

“As we indicated above, the Constitution of the Republic guarantees us the right to strike, to protest in a peaceful orderly manner to express our dissatisfaction with anything. While all South Africans enjoy these rights, rights always come with responsibilities.” - Sapa