S.Africa president vows to investigate mine tragedy

August 23, 2012 9:28 am 

JOHANNESBURG, Aug. 23 — President Jacob Zuma vowed on Wednesday to uncover the truth about the mine tragedy in which 44 miners were killed.

Meeting with miners at the Lonmin Platinum mine in Marikana, the North West Province, Zuma said he wanted to get first hand information from the miners about what happened instead of relying on television and other news media.

"I have already taken a decision to institute a Commission of Inquiry to investigate every aspect of what happened here. We want the truth," said Zuma.

This was the second time Zuma visited the area. He visited wounded miners at the hospital the day after police shot dead 34 miners and wounded 78 others in clashes last Thursday.

Police blamed striking miners for shooting at police officers first, prompting retaliation from the officers in self-defense. In earlier events leading up to the clashes, 10 other people, including two police officers, were killed as miners affiliated with different unions clashed with each other in what was believed to be factional fighting.

Zuma has instituted a Commission of Inquiry to investigate every aspect of what happened at the mine to uncover the truth. "I am certain that the Commission of Inquiry will get to the bottom of what happened here," he said.

Zuma said he was shocked that so many people had died. "This is painful to all of us. 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."

Such tragedy "will never happen again", Zuma assured the miners, adding: "Those saying our government gave orders to kill are misinformed because it will never be our policy to harm those we represent."

He said he would relay the miners' demand for a rise in salaries to the company. The miners demand a rise from the current 4,000 rand (about 488 U.S. dollars) to 12,500 rand (about 1,524 dollars) every month.

Zuma said the miners' demand should be guided by the Constitution. (PNA/Xinhua)

FPV/RSM

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