Striking miners in Marikana wanted to hold a solidarity march to tell police to stop “brutalising” them.
Officials at the Anglo American Platinum mine in South Africa have announced that they will dismiss 12,000 out of 21,000 striking miners they say are engaging in an “illegal strike”.
The world’s largest platinum producer said on Friday the 12,000 dismissed workers failed to turn up to disciplinary hearings which began on Tuesday.
They will have three working days to appeal.
Al Jazeera’s in-depth coverage of the mining protests in Marikana and elsewhere in South Africa:
Anglo American, located in North West province, had been threatening the strikers with dismissal for a week now via text messages to its workers.
The sackings were the first such actions by all of the mines where illegal strikes have taken place.
The announcement came on a day a branch leader of the nation’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was shot dead near a mine run by fellow platinum producer Lonmin in nearby Marikana.
Neither police nor mine owners commented on the claim.
Lesiba Seshoka, NUM spokesman, told Al Jazeera that he did not know why the branch leader was shot, but that the killing was part of a “growing trend” of violence against workers.
“We are appealing to the law enforcement agencies of South Africa to do a thorough investigation as to who is behind all these killings,” he said.
Earlier on Friday, the body of a mine worker was found near the Anglo American mine, according to a strike leader.
Al Jazeera’s Tania Page, reporting from Rustenberg, said the miners she spoke to reiterated that the sackings would not deter their protests.
“They were so determined to get this money that they were never going to back down from a big pay raise,” she said.
The striking miners are seeking a raise from what they say is a salary of $500 per month to $2,000.
Police backed by armoured vehicles and a helicopter dispersed the striking miners as they attempted to gather on a hillsideclose to their informal settlement in Rustenburg
after a night of clashes with authorities.
The demonstrations have now spread to seven of the nation’s nine provinces.
Over 75,000 South African miners workers, who amount for 15 per cent of the nation’s work force, are on strike.
The walkouts began four weeks ago when 15,000 miners walked off the job at the world’s fourth largest gold producer, Gold Fields.
In August, police shot and killed 46 workers at the Lonmin mine. The strikes then spread to coal, diamond, chrome and iron mines.
For two weeks now, 20,000 lorry drivers have also gone on strike, leaving several petrol stations without fuel and automated teller machines without cash.
The drivers have called on their colleagues in South Africa’s ports to join in their protest starting next week.