Zuma announces Marikana inquiry

President Jacob Zuma will establish a commission of inquiry to investigate the bloodbath.

Police open fire at protesting workers at the Lonmin mine in Marikana, North West on 16 August, 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/Eyewitness News.

MARIKANA - President Jacob Zuma on Friday called on South Africa to mourn as a nation, following the tragic shooting at Lonmin's Marikana Mine.

Earlier on Friday, National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega confirmed that 34 workers were killed and 78 others injured when police opened fire at the protesting workers.

Zuma returned early from a Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit in Mozambique to address the crisis at the volatile North West mine.

The president sent his condolences to the families of the victims, saying now was the time for healing.

Zuma also announced that he would establish a commission of inquiry to investigate the bloodbath.

He said South Africans must not play the blame game or point fingers at any individuals.

Zuma added the violent clashes were "unacceptable", especially in a country with high level of organisation within labour unions.

Earlier, Phiyega vowed to cooperate with any investigation into the violence and called for calm.

Violence at the mine started last Friday when around 3,000 rock drill operators embarked on an illegal strike over pay.

Inter-union rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) was blamed for the violence.

Meanwhile, AMCU said the deaths could have been avoided if Lonmin management did not go back on a negotiation commitment.

AMCU president Josheph Mathenjwa wept as he recalled how he had pleaded with protesting miners to lay down their weapons.

Earlier on Friday, around 100 women gathered at the scene of Thursday's shooting to condemn police action.

They said officers should not have opened fire on their husbands.