President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
A commission of inquiry would be set up to investigate the causes of a shooting that left 34 people dead in the North West, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.
"The inquiry will enable us to get to the real cause of the incident, and to derive the necessary lessons," Zuma said.
"However, today is not an occasion for blame, finger-pointing or recrimination."
Zuma was addressing a press briefing at Lonmin's Marikana Platinum mine near Rustenburg. He was accompanied by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu, Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele, Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu and the national police commissioner Riah Phiyega.
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.
Zuma said calm needed to be restored.
"Today is about reminding ourselves of our responsibilities as citizens. We have rights that are guaranteed in the Constitution of the republic, such as the rights of association, assembly and freedom of expression.
We can protest against any institution peacefully.
"It is one of the cornerstones of our hard won democracy," he said.
Zuma said it was a day to mourn together as a nation and to start rebuilding and healing. -Sapa