Miners vow to spread ‘story of exploitation’ as far as US

2014-06-01 06:00

A trio of miners from the strike-ravaged platinum mining belt has vowed to travel as far as the US and Europe to share the pain of their “exploitation”.

Already, the three said they were being assisted by the Marikana Solidarity Campaign Group in their travels across South Africa. They are addressing different groups of people to rally support for their now four-month wage strike.

While at it, the miners said they had received donations of almost R100 000, which went to the strike fund set up to feed striking miners who could not afford anything after four months of not being paid.

They said people had been donating, especially after Gift of the Givers started taking food and medicine to the platinum belt in Rustenburg.

The three said they had also come to realise that ordinary people did not view them as “some cheap labourers” but “very important people in the line of production of the country’s mineral wealth”.

Molefi Phele, a miner from Lonmin in Marikana said: “We addressed students and academics at the University of Cape Town and many other interested groups this week. We were humbled and at the same time taken aback by the interest people have in the mining industry and its workers. I wish mining companies can take us a little [more seriously], like ordinary people do, because they see us as producers of very precious minerals.”

He said what had spurred them to criss-cross the country in a quest to enlighten the nation about their struggle was the feeling that their story was not being fully shared through the media.

“Although they have kept our strike in the news, the media have not done enough to show our struggles,” Phele said.

“I have realised after addressing more gatherings in our quest that the world wants to know the real story. They want to know how miners perished in a hail of bullets when they [went] out to seek improved wages.”

Phele and two others – from Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum – have been to Bloemfontein and Welkom in the Free State. They were in the Western Cape this week.

Anglo miner Michael Ramathella said: “The situation is not getting any better back in Rustenburg ... People understand better why we believe we deserve better salaries that will equal the bad working conditions and risks and they agree that what we’re asking for is just a small slice [of a] pie of billions of rands raked in by mining companies.

“If they continue being stubborn and greedy, we’ll travel overseas to countries where these mining companies’ head offices are to share our story with citizens there.

They emphasised that miners would not be going to work unless an improved offer was put on the table.

Phele said: “We have gone a long way now and people have had their cars and houses repossessed by the banks. It will be of no use to accept just any meagre offer.

“Some of the groups we spoke to have indicated that they would also embark on picketing and campaigns in solidarity with the striking miners. Right now we need all the support we can get as our struggle towards a R12 500 minimum wage continues.”

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