Wives and mothers of missing miners have been protesting at the scene of Thursday’s police shooting in South Africa – many of them not knowing if their loved ones are alive or dead.
At least 34 miners were killed and dozens more injured in the clashes. Police say over 250 others were arrested, hence confusion about the fate of some of those who had been striking for higher pay.
President Jacob Zuma cut short a trip to Mozambique because of the violence and travelled to Marikana where the killings happened, 100 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg.
He ordered an official inquiry into what he called the “shocking” events and insisted on his commitment to peace, stability and a better quality of life for all, especially the poor and working class.
“It is against this background that we have to uncover the truth about what happened here,” he said.
Police maintain they acted in self-defence by firing on 3,000 striking miners armed with machetes and sticks near the mine, owned by major platinum producer Lonmin.
Prior to Thursday, 10 people, two of them policemen, had been killed in several days of conflict between rival unions at the site.