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The legacy of mining in SA

27 August 2012, 15:35
I grew up in a mining town, so when the Marikana disaster hit the news it made me think of how mining is in SA has always been based on discrimination.  From the beginning of deep level mining in SA you had the owner, managers and workers.  The job of the managers was to control the workers and make lots of money for the owners and of course the government of the day.

I don’t know at what stage the workers were black, but it became very convenient for the owners having the blacks suppressed in the mines.  In the 60s when my father was a miner the blacks were even legislated out of any opportunity to advance.

They could only be part of the gang who shifted rock after the whites blasted the rock face.  In those days you had to have blasting certificate to be a miner.  Blacks then were not allowed to have blasting certificates.

The Rock drillers in those days were mostly Shangaans because in those days with blacks not allowed to do anything other than labor, being a “machine boy” was quite prestigious.  I don’t know if they were being paid more for doing that job, but I surmise that the owners of the gold mines were so stingy they probably didn’t pay them more. How it worked in most mines was that the miners were white and they were allocated a black gang who was a certain number of which I can’t remember but the head was the “bossboy” in charge of the black gang they also had a “machine boy” who did the drilling.

The gang first cleared the rock from the previous days blast so the “white” miner can mark was the Machine boy must drill.  When he was finished the ‘white’ miner filled the holes with explosive ready for the next blast.   So when our country turned democratic for the first time the ruling party at the time which was to equalize the workplace and still get the lucrative money from the mines so as a result they never solved the problem but ended by creating a bigger problem making the workers believe the new government is going to make things better at the workplace.  Now you have mines full of disgruntled workers.

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