THREE THOUSAND striking platinum miners marched to the Marikana Lonmin mine and forced the massed ranks of the riot police to retreat yesterday at midday.
It was the biggest demonstration at Marikana since police shot dead 34 miners last month, sparking outrage.
The strikers called on the small number of non-striking miners to join the strike.
The march follows the release of 50 miners who had been charged with the murder of the 34 miners shot dead by the police.
Another 200 miners are expected to be freed today.
A man at the head of the demonstration waved a placard which said: ‘We want 12,500 rand ($1,480; £935) – nothing else’.
Other miners held up the pictures of their dead comrades.
The miners halted 50 yards from the Lonmin mine and sat down in front of the massed lines of riot police.
Rock-drill operators embarked on a strike about a month ago, demanding higher wages and greater recognition for a new union, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which is a rival to the long-established National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).
The striking workers accuse NUM of being too close to Lonmin, and failing to press their wage demand in talks with management.
Former NUM General-Secretary Cyril Ramaphosa is a Lonmin director.
The striking miners are also alleging that the South African police took a wounded miner from his hospital bed and killed him.
‘Police went to the hospital and dragged him away. They beat him up and they killed him. We found him in the mortuary,’ alleged demonstrators.