Statement: President Jacob Zuma on the Marikana Lonmin mineworkers tragedy


Premier Modise, Ministers and Deputy Ministers, Ladies and gentlemen of the media, I have just returned from the SADC Summit in Maputo to be with the people of the North West, the workers in our mines, the families of those who have lost their lives or been injured, and with the Police Service in this hour of mourning.

We have all been saddened and dismayed by the events of the past few days and hours around the Marikana mine.

The loss of life among workers and members of our Police Service is tragic and regrettable.

These events are not what we want to see or want to become accustomed to, in a democracy that is bound by the rule of law, and where we are creating a better life for all our people.

We do not expect such incidents, particularly in a country where there is a high level of organisation within the labour movement. We have trade unions with many years of experience in organising workers, within the framework of the labour laws of the country.

Today, our thoughts are primarily with the families of those who have lost their lives.

As government and as fellow citizens, we offer our sincere condolences to all families who have lost their loved ones.

Our thoughts are also with those who are recovering in hospitals and clinics.

Our thoughts are also with our Police Service who are at times called upon to intervene in difficult situations.

The events of the past few days have unfortunately been visited upon a nation that is hard at work, addressing the persistent challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

We undertake this work in conditions of peace and stability, working with all sectors in our country.

We also work with international investors and development partners who have over many years derived great benefits from working in, and associating with South Africa.

We assure the South African people in particular, that we remain fully committed to ensuring that this country remains a peaceful, stable, productive and thriving nation, that is focused on improving the quality of life of all, especially the poor and the working class.

It is against this background that we have to uncover the truth about what happened here.

In this regard, I have decided to institute a Commission of Inquiry. The inquiry will enable us to get to the real cause of the incident, and to derive the necessary lessons.

However, today is not an occasion for blame, finger-pointing or recrimination.

Today challenges us to restore calm and to share the pain of the affected families and communities.

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.

However, as I said, this is not a day to apportion blame. It is a day for us to mourn together as a nation. It is also a day to start rebuilding and healing.

We have gone through painful moments before, and were able to overcome such challenges through coming together as a nation, regardless of race, colour, creed or political affiliations.

We must use that national trait again during this difficult period.

Most importantly, we will not be derailed from the progress we have made as a country since 1994.

We will continue with our task of consolidating our hard-won freedom and democracy.

And we will continue working tirelessly, to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.

I thank you.