Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa (File, Beeld)
Cape Town - Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Tuesday said his officers who shot dead 34 striking mineworkers last week had done everything in their power to prevent the incident.
"The events of Thursday 16 August 2012 were not a sudden eruption but a culmination of events that were building over months and months," Nathi Mthethwa told a special parliamentary debate on the tragedy at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana.
"The South African Police Service is saddened by the events that unfolded on that fateful day. The police did all in their power to avert such a situation."
The police shooting brought the death toll at the Marikana mine to 44, after 10 people were killed in reported inter-union clashes in the days after an illegal strike over wage demands started on 10 August.
National police commissioner Riah Phiyega has said that her forces had to use maximum force after coming under attack from armed mine workers, leaving 34 people dead and 78 injured.
"The loss of life among workers and members of our police service is tragic and regrettable," Mthethwa said.
The use of live ammunition has shocked the country, leading to a national week of mourning with nationwide memorial services taking place on Thursday.
"It is our responsibility both as individuals and as a nation to ensure that it does not happen again," Mthethwa said.