Jacob Zuma orders inquiry into South Africa mine shootings


Police surround fallen miners after they opened fire during clashes at the Lonmin Marikana platinum mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, on August 16, 2012. Hundreds of workers armed with machetes, sticks and metal rods had gathered on a hillside near the mine, defying police orders to disperse. Several people were lying on the ground, some bleeding from wounds, after the crowd fled, according to an AFP reporter. Police say at least 30 people were killed.



President Jacob Zuma has announced an inquiry into the shootings at a South Africa mine that have left 34 dead and 78 injured. 

"We have to uncover the truth about what happened here," said Zuma Friday. "In this regard I've decided to institute a commission of inquiry. The inquiry will enable us to get to the real cause of the incident."

The violence at the Lomnin Marikana mine started with clashes between police and striking workers. Police reportedly opened fire onto a group of protesters who were armed with machetes and clubs, GlobalPost's South Africa correspondent Erin Conway-Smith reported. 

However, there are conflicting accounts of how the shootings unfolded, and police say they fired on protesters in self-defense, the South African Press Association reported.

More from GlobalPost: South Africa: Police say 34 dead in Lonmin Marikana mine shooting (VIDEO)

President Zuma left a South Africa Development Community meeting to visit the site of the shootings on Friday, and offered his condolences to the victims' families, the Mail and Guardian reported.

"We offer our sincere condolences to all the families who have lost loved ones," Zuma said Friday, according to the Mail and Guardian. "The events of the past few days have unfortunately been visited upon a nation that is hard at work at addressing the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality." 

More from GlobalPost: South Africa: Police fire on workers at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine (VIDEO)

Zuma stayed away from blaming either side for sparking the violence in his address, BBC News reported

"Today is not an occasion for blame, finger-pointing or recrimination," said Zuma. "Today challenges us to restore calm and to share the pain of the affected families and communities. Today is about reminding ourselves of our responsibility as citizens."