Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has backtracked on comments he made which effectively defended the actions of police who shot and killed 34 striking miners in Marikana in 2012.
A statement released by the Presidency on Wednesday stated: “The media has reported the remarks of the president at Tshwane University of Technology yesterday to have meant that he condones the death of the 34. President Zuma and government condemn all the deaths equally.”
It then quoted Zuma as saying: “All the deaths should be equally condemned by all without being selective as all lives are important and all families equally lost their loved ones in the tragic and painful incidents at Marikana.”
Zuma came under fire from some of his audience for comments at TUT’s Soshanguve south campus. He was addressing more than 1 000 people at the end of the Siyahlola Presidential Monitoring Programme on Tuesday.
When Zuma condemned the violent nature of the protests at the TUT campuses, a man in the audience shouted that the police had killed the Marikana miners.
Zuma responded: “Those people in Marikana had killed people and the police were stopping them from killing people.”
Last month, the president announced to parliament that he would release the Farlam Commission’s report of findings into the tragedy by the end of June.
Miners who were injured and arrested during the incident and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union took Zuma to court earlier this month to demand that he make the report public immediately. The application was dismissed.