Brazen Lonmin bosses at the tragedy-hit Marikana platinum mine ordered employees to return to work or face dismissal today.
The company issued an ultimatum to workers to end their strike three days after the country's worst police violence since the end of apartheid.
"The final ultimatum provides rock drill operators with a last opportunity to return to work or face possible dismissal," said spokeswoman Gillian Findlay.
"Employees could therefore be dismissed if they fail to heed it."
The scene of Thursday's bloodshed was deserted and police maintained a low-profile today at the hostel where workers were going about their daily chores. But anger remained.
Workers at the mine in the North West province said they will press on with wage demands and slammed a return to work as "an insult" to their colleagues who were gunned down after police failed to disperse strikers on Thursday.
Thousands of miners and their families had welcomed former African National Congress youth leader Julius Malema yesterday.
He told the thousands who gathered at the mine that South African police had no right to fire the live bullets that killed them.
Mr Malema said police "had no right to shoot," even if the miners had opened fire first.
Mr Malema, who was expelled from the ANC in April for sowing division, claimed that top-ranking ANC members had shares in the Lonmin company that owns the platinum mine and implied that they had no interest in seeing miners earn higher wages.
He called for President Jacob Zuma and his police minister to either resign or back the striking miners' wage demands.
"President Zuma presided over the massacre of our people," Mr Malema claimed.
Meanwhile, the South African Communist Party welcomed President Zuma's commitment to a full inquiry and warned that it must include analysis of the company's role in the tragedy, in its use of contract labour and sowing division among its workforce.
"It is not possible to understand the tragedy without understanding how profit-maximising corporate greed has deliberately sought to undercut an established trade union and collective bargaining by conniving with demagogic forces," it warned.
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