Former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.

Thousands of striking mineworkers gathered at Gold Fields' Driefontein Mine outside Carletonville on Tuesday morning.

They were waiting for expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema to address them.

Many in the group were carrying knobkerries and sticks. The protesters were singing and dancing, and blowing on whistles and vuvuzelas.

They were carrying posters saying, “R12,500 or nothing”, and “Down with NUM leadership”.

About 15,000 workers at Gold Fields' KDC mine on the West Rand went on an unprotected strike on Sunday evening, the company said.

Earlier, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said the union had sent a team to discuss striking Gold Fields workers' demand that their branch leaders be removed.

“There have never been any complaints about the branch there. We are surprised as well,” said Seshoka.

This demand was contained in a memorandum handed over by the striking workers.

NUM sent leadership on Monday night and Tuesday morning to speak to the workers to find out what their issues were and to then take appropriate action.

Seshoka said the branch leaders were elected by the workers themselves and they could replace them if they want to.

“Workers generally have got the right to do so, because that is the leadership elected by them,” said Seshoka.

Malema, who was expelled from the ANC when he was head of the ANC Youth League, was expected to address workers at the gold mine on Tuesday.

He has been lobbying the ANCYL policy of nationalisation of mines, and has been visiting mines and addressing disgruntled mineworkers over the past two weeks.

Seshoka said he did not think the events on mines over the past few weeks were a sign that workers were losing faith in the NUM.

“Not really. Our feeling is that we are seeing a situation in which one strike action prompts another. It's a mixture of a whole (lot) of issues.

“We have got politics, we have got a whole lot of issues involved.”

Production has been halted at Lonmin's platinum mine near Rustenburg for a month.

An unprotected strike began on August 10 and 10 people died in the following days.

On August 16, another 34 people were killed in a clash between police and a group of protesters near the mine.

Their rallying cry has been for a pay increase to R12,500 a month.

At Gold Fields on Monday, one of the demands of striking workers there was that they too see an increase to R12,500. - Sapa