Miners: desperate and hungry

2014-04-06 14:00

Xolisa Mngcanyana returned home to his village in Libode last month to bury his grandmother.

He hasn’t been back to work since then – because, as a Lonmin rock drill operator, there’s no work to do while the strike continues and he has no money to travel.

Mngcanyana’s two children were attending a private school in Mthatha. They’ve been kicked out because he can’t pay their school fees.

The 38-year-old, who has worked at Lonmin since last May, is the sole breadwinner for nine people. “Everyone looks to me. I am also hungry but because I am the man in the house I have to make a plan. It’s tough.

“My only prayer is for the powers that be to find a solution to this impasse. Our children are dying of hunger,” he said.

Xolisile Joyini (31), is a stop timer at Zwartkop Chrome Mine in Limpopo. He, too, returned home for a funeral in March and hasn’t gone back to work. “I also had to support my family. It’s very tough for me watching my children suffer like this.

“They are saying ‘Daddy, I want polony, I want yoghurt’ and there is nothing I can do about because I can’t give them those things,” said the married father of three.

“Even loan sharks [oomatshonisa] are refusing to lend us money. They are asking how we are going to pay them back because we are not getting paid at work ourselves. No one wants to touch us any more.”

He is adamant that he supports the strike and wants nothing less than a R12 500 monthly wage. “Our brothers died in Marikana fighting for this. If we give up now it means they died in vain. We have already suffered a lot.”

But not all the miners in Libode’s Coza and Mhlanganisweni villages support the strike. A supervisor at Northam’s Amandelbult section, who asked not to be named, said he couldn’t live another day without an income.

“I have five children. “I can’t afford to pay for their transport to go to school. “They are hungry, I am hungry, their mother is hungry. We go to bed on empty stomachs daily,” he said.

Village chief Ntandoyesizwe Ndamase said some of the miners were battling to give their loved ones decent funerals.

“It’s sad because these men are the backbone of their families and these villages – they are the only people who work here.”

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