Strike takes toll as cash-strapped miners approach lenders

2012-09-04 12:55

A three-week long strike at Lonmin’s Marikana mine has taken its toll on workers who see no choice but to approach cash loan outlets for help.

The no-work-no-pay strike started last month with workers refusing to go back to work unless their wage demand was met.

There are at least three cash loan outlets in the small mining town.

At Tshelete Cash Loan, a Lonmin employee, who wanted to remain anonymous, said today that his monthly salary amounted to R7 800 before deductions.

This included allowances and overtime payment.

His take-home pay came to about R5 000 – money he had not been earning since the strike.

“The last time I was at work was during the first week of August. I came to borrow money. I don’t have any money left.”

He hails from Limpopo and lives at Majakaneng village, about 15km from Marikana. As an existing client at Tshelete Cash Loan, he managed to borrow R1 500.

At least R1 000 would be sent home to his family in Limpopo, he said.

“I am going back to work tomorrow. I will risk it because I do not have a choice. We are not sure when the strike will end.”

Some of his colleagues had also decided to return to work.

“If you live in Nkaneng in Wonderkop you know you cannot go to work. It is very dangerous. People who go to work live in other areas and are picked up in minibus taxis.”

Assistant manager at Tshelete, Sonnyboy Ditshele, said striking workers had been coming in numbers to borrow cash.

The company had no choice but to turn away new clients who work at Lonmin, he said.

“I can only help existing clients even though they are on strike because we already have a relationship with them. We cannot lend [to] new clients from Lonmin.”

Ditshele turned away six workers who wanted to try their luck.

“I cannot risk lending them money. No one knows what will happen at Lonmin.”

Some of the miners who were turned away said they were afraid to go to work.

“Some of my neighbours are among the strikers. I can’t risk going to work because they will notice,” said one of the workers.

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