Police have been firing rubber bullets and tear gas in an attempt to herd striking miners into their shacks.
The show of force followed a government vow to halt illegal protests and disarm the strikers who have stopped work at precious metal mines, destabilising the country's critical mining sector.
Six women were hit by rubber bullets and one had to be taken to hospital, Anglican bishop Jo Seoka, president of the Council of Churches, warned of serious repercussions and said he was holding the government and Lonmin mine officials responsible describing it as an 'aparteid-era crackdown.'
The standoff between striking miners and South African authorities hardened as workers rejected a new deal and 'gatherings' were banned.
The expelled ANC firebrand politician Julius Malema tells ITV News black South Africans are worse off now than they were during apartheid.
Fifty of the South African miners who were charged with the murder of their colleagues have celebrated their freedom outside a courthouse.