Religious leaders condemn Marikana bloodbath

Religious leaders and the ISS have called for an inquiry into the Marikana bloodshed.

A group of people protested outside Parliament on 17 August 2012 to show their disgust following the Lonmin massacre. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Calls for an inquiry into the violence at the Lonmin mine in Rustenburg continue to grow.

The Institute for Security Studies says proper investigations should be conducted.

Police have confirmed at least 34 people were killed on Thursday while 78 others were injured in protests which spiralled out of control.

The institute says police should not be the only ones blamed for the violence.

The institute's Johan Burger says, "It was eventually a situation of two armed groups facing each other. We saw the video footage. We saw the kinds of weapons that these striking miners were walking around with."

On Friday night, President Jacob Zuma visited the area. The president cut his Southern African Development Community (Sadc) trip short so he could address the tragedy.

He expressed shock at the incident and promised to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate the killings.

Meanwhile, religious leaders have condemned the bloodshed.

The Catholic Bishops of Southern Africa's Chris Townsend says any investigation must include trade unions, the company and the police.

"The inquiry should not only focus on the circumstances that lead up to the shootings on Thursday. They should also look at the ongoing circumstances at the Marikana mine."

He says churches are prepared to help with trauma counselling in the area.

At the same time, the South African Muslim Network (Samnet) has appealed to Muslims to dedicate the last days of their fast to those who died at the mine.

Samnet's Faisal Fuliman says, "We are calling on all Muslims to dedicate the remaining fast of the month of Ramadan for peace in Marikana and in memory of the deceased miners."