23 August 2012
President Jacob Zuma, during a visit to Marikana near Rustenburg on Wednesday, told striking mine workers that a commission of inquiry would uncover the truth behind the clashes with the police that led to the deaths of 34 of their colleagues last week.
Zuma explained that he was in Mozambique on government work when the tragedy happened and had come back before the scheduled time as he had been shocked that so many people had died.
“I could only meet police leadership on the day,” Zuma said. “I could not come here as it was late, but I managed to go to hospital where some of the injured workers related what happened to me.
“I have already taken a decision to institute a commission of inquiry to investigate every aspect of what happened here. We want the truth.”
Thirty-four people were killed and 78 others sustained injuries in clashes with the police at Marikana last Thursday. Prior to this, 10 other people – including two police officers – were killed in nearly a week of fighting between rival worker factions.
“This is painful to all of us,” Zuma said. “It is not acceptable for people to die where talks can be held. But I do feel your pain and have come personally to express that. I am certain that the Commission of Inquiry will get to the bottom of what happened here.”
He told the workers he had decided to come to Marikana despite his other engagements in Mafikeng as it was important to hear first-hand from them and not rely on television and what was reported in the news.
“I hear that you are saying you won’t leave here until you get the money you want. I wasn’t aware of an agreement between government and employer that you must be killed as you say, but that must be investigated.
“I will also send a message to the employer that you demand R12 500. I haven’t met the employer so I don’t know his view on this,” Zuma said.
“But we have a Constitution to guide us, and the inter-ministerial committee I established will continue its work of assisting families and surviving workers. If there is anything that needs me, I will come in person again.”
President Zuma was accompanied by Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Collins Chabane, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi, and North West Premier Thandi Modise.