Marikana, South Africa (CNN) -- The headlines Friday in South Africa spoke of a bloodbath, of war.
The morning after carnage at a platinum mine, South Africans grappled with shock, memories of an ugly era resurrected in their minds. The word apartheid surfaced again as people debated the need for such police force.
The police, meanwhile, explained themselves at a news conference, giving reporters the grim toll: 34 mine workers killed, 78 others wounded, 259 arrested on various charges, including malicious damage to property, armed robbery, illegal gathering and possession of weapons. That according to Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega.
She said police "were forced to utilize maximum force to defend themselves."
South African President Jacob Zuma cut short a trip to Mozambique to visit the scene of the shootings Friday afternoon. He announced the government will open an inquiry of the incident.
He reminded South Africans that they must come together to overcome national challenges as they had done before.
"This is not a day to apportion blame," Zuma said. "It is a day for us to mourn together as a nation. It is also a day to start healing."
Mourn, yes, but also a time to think about what had been done, some cried.