A large group of striking South African miners braved the scorching Rustenburg sun to protest at the entrance to Lonmin’s Eastern Platinum mine on Monday.
They arrived there in a winding procession from the Wonderkop area, near Marikana.
Four police Nyalas barricaded the entrance and the strikers stood opposite them, singing and dancing. Leaders of the protesters entered the mine premises with police officers.
The workers sang: “Thina silwela amalungelo wethu… [We are fighting for our rights].”
Earlier, a leader of the protesters, Anele Nogwanya said they would go to different mining shafts in the area to demand the closure of all operations.
“Mining activities at the Eastern Platinum mine have to be halted as the workers there are underpaid,” he said.
“We have now buried all our fallen colleagues. Now is the time to honour our promise to them of getting the R12,500, a livable wage” he said.
“If we go back to work without getting R12,500, our deceased colleagues will turn against us.”
Nogwanya said that after halting operations, the protesters would demand that non-striking workers at the hostels join them.
Police stopped the protesters on their way to the mine, but after negotiations, allowed them to proceed. Some of the workers waved knobkerries, arrows, pangas and sjamboks.
Representatives of the workers told the police they wanted access to the mine to close down operations there.
On August 16, police fired on a group of protesting workers killing 34 of them and wounding 78. Another 10 people were killed the preceding week, including two policemen and two security guards.
Lonmin said staff attendance was at 6.34 percent on Monday, ahead of wage talks, which were expected to begin at noon.
One of the conditions of a peace deal signed on Thursday was that the workforce return on Monday.
“Attendance today is 6.34 percent,” said spokeswoman Sue Vey, after a slow start of just over two percent earlier.
Only one shift — the 7am — was running across the 11 shafts of the Marikana complex, which includes Eastern Platinum Ltd and Western Platinum Ltd.
The company, which is considered one of the world’s largest producers of platinum group metals, loses around 2500 platinum ounces per day of no production.
Work stopped at the mine on August 10.