Community members were mobilised by strikers to join a march to the smelters at Lonmin on Wednesday.
Workers said they were going to the smelters to check if there were any other people working at the centre.
“We want all operations to stop. That is why we are going to (the) smelters,” said Loyiso Matsheketshe.
Police on the ground and in a helicopter hovering overhead monitored the group estimated to be more than 5 000 people, including women.
People formed different sections in the march carrying umbrellas, knobkerries, assegais, and arrows.
They asked non-mine employees to join them as they made their way to the smelters.
Meanwhile, SA Council of Churches chairman Bishop Jo Seoka said the clergy would hold a briefing at the Lutheran Church near Wonderkop at 1pm as they continued their efforts to bring a splinter group of workers to the negotiating table.
They also planned to meet with traditional leaders from the communities the miners hailed from.
This was parallel to efforts by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration, after Seoka was sent on Monday to representatives of four unions and the company said they would not be attending talks scheduled for that day as hoped.
In an earlier statement, Seoka, who is also chairman of the Benchmarks Foundation and Anglican Bishop of Pretoria, implored Lonmin not to fire the workers, but to put the mine into downtime for a few months and wait for calm.
“I hear rumours that if Lonmin fired all striking workers that they would then close operations for several months, hoping that the situation will return to normal,” he said in a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon.
“This would imply that workers will return home to the Eastern Cape and Transkei and that eventually the company will be able to employ again and resume production for Lonmin.”
Seoka said the striking workers had lost their leader Mgcineni Noki, who was known as “the man in green”, or “Mambush”.
“This needs to be considered by the CCMA and, if they are not able to deal with the situation, that someone like Charles Nupen from the International Labour Organisation should be brought in to assist workers to understand the power dynamics and help them to find a way forward. Otherwise they might lose everything.”
Forty-five people have been killed in events associated with the strike since August 10. Ten people, including police and security guards, died in the week before police fired on protesters, killing 34 of them on August 16.
On Tuesday, a body was found near where strikers had gathered outside the mine.
The strikers have said they will go back to work only if their salaries are increased to R12 500.
The CCMA said it would hold another meeting with all parties on Thursday.
Comment from the company was not immediately available, but Solidarity deputy general secretary Gideon du Plessis said he had been told that less than two percent of the workforce arrived for work on Wednesday. - Sapa