Strike may be over, but town will still suffer

2014-06-14 00:00

WHILE mineworkers in Marikana are hopeful of going back to work soon after the apparent resolution of the 21-week strike, the fall-out of the platinum strike will be felt for months.

Affected families in Rustenburg have been pawning their crockery, fridges and washing machines to keep food on their tables.

“The problem is Rustenburg is seriously dependent on the mines and the strike has hit the town hard,” said Toyota dealer Louis Pretorius, who as a member of the Toyota Knights charity group has been collecting food and blanklets for afffected children.

“Income levels are irrelevant. Everyone, rich and poor, is suffering. It will be about a year and a half before the town is back on its feet.”

Miners in Marikana yesterday were reluctant to talk to the media, apparently because union Amcu had asked them not to until the details of the settlement had been finally approved, but the mood was excited.

“There is hope, I can say that. There is hope,” said one.

A fitter at the Lonmin mine confirmed that it was being readied for workers to return on Tuesday. But he said it would be about three weeks before it was really working again.

“It’s going to be a process of getting all the workers through their medical tests and induction and renewing their contracts,” he said.

Pretorius said Toyota’s sales in Rustenburg have dropped by about 35 to 50% a month. “Shopping centres are empty, even at month end. I think people will still lose their jobs.”

One of the places where the situation in the town is clearly on view is the Cash Converters pawn shop.

“The worst was a little girl crying when her mother pawned her BlackBerry and asking: ‘Will you delete my pictures?’,” said manager Yolandi van Ryneveld. “People first pawned their electronic items and miners pawned their tools. Then people started coming in with fridges and washing machines. Some families came to fetch their machines on washing day, and then pawned them again.”

Now people are pawning crockery and paintings, because that is all they have left.

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