Rustenburg – A former miner who was laid off at an Anglo American Platinum mine in Rustenburg says being unemployed has left him so desperate for money that he has resorted to prostituting his sister just to put food on the table.
The 40-year-old, who is originally from Mqanduli in the Eastern Cape, was laid off in 2013 a few months after the wage strike in Rustenburg’s platinum belt in 2012 which saw 44 people killed in Marikana in August of that year.
He had been working at the mine since his arrival in the North West town in 2004, he said. He said after the shootings in Marikana and the end of the wage strike, he had woken up every day to go to work.
“About three or four months into the year they told us that the mine has decided to lay people off. When we asked them why we weren’t told they were laying people off we were not given any answers, till today.”
After that, he lost his place in the mining compounds and had to hustle to find a shack in Zakhele informal settlements, a few kilometres from the mine.
He said he was struggling to find another mining job and had been looking for the past three years.
‘If I didn’t sell her, I wouldn’t eat’
He was currently living with his younger sister and the only means of survival for them was for her to go out at night and look for “clients”, he said.
“I tell her that she also needs to hustle some money even if it is R10 that we can buy food with. What then happens to those who don’t have sisters or female relatives like I do? I have to use her to make sure that I eat. If I didn’t sell her, I wouldn’t eat.
“When it starts getting dark she has to go out and look for customers, maybe stop some cars that pass by on the road, maybe she can get a R50 and come back with it so we can eat.
“The life that we are living is not right,” he said.
Work opportunities for unemployed miners were scarce, he said.
“Other opportunities aren’t presenting themselves, it is so so difficult to just sit and do nothing.”
“It’s not right. I could be looking for other jobs elsewhere yes, but I still want to work in the mines, I wish I could return back to the mines but as I see it, the season that we’re in doesn’t look that favourable for me to return to the mines.”
He said all the mines tended to employ those living in their vicinity.
“We are just sitting here with nothing to do, if we had homes back where we come from we would go back there and continue with our lives.
“After 2013 our homes at the mine hostels were gone, so we are stuck here now.”
He said he would be exercising his right to vote come August 3.
In the 2014 local elections, the United Democratic Movement won 47.08% of the national election votes and 44.79% of the provincial votes in Zakhele informal settlement.
The African National Congress trailed behind with 36% both nationally and provincially, with the Economic Freedom Fighters (which was barely a year old) managing to bag 7.71% nationally and 9% provincially.
The ANC was confident it would win the ward back.