Steven Tau
2 minute read
4 Jun 2014
8:00 am

‘Hungry’ Marikana pupils want strike over

Steven Tau

Pupils from Marikana, outside Rustenburg, say they have been finding it difficult to concentrate in the classroom amid the almost five-month-old strike in the platinum sector.

A group of miners play a game of checkers outside their living quarters in Marikana yesterday, following a visit by the aid group Gift of the Givers. Picture: Refilwe Modise.

Most of the pupils who spoke to The Citizen yesterday said they had felt the brunt of the strike.

Grade 11 pupil Joel Matsepe, whose father works at one of the platinum mines, said the strike had an averse effect on his studies in the wake of the mid-year examinations. “My parents have not been able to buy electricity for the past two months, forcing me to study by candlelight.

“On most days since the strike started I have been going to school without food – and when I am hungry, I can’t focus,” he said.

His peer Senzo Langa echoed Matsepe’s sentiments, saying the strike has made it impossible for his parents to buy him needed school material. “Many times, we as pupils have been asked to work on school projects in Internet cafes. But for the past two months my parents don’t have money.

“I also need new school shoes, but my parents can’t afford it.”

Langa said he wished for a resolution to end the strike soon. “I wish the mining companies will give our dads the R12 500 they are demanding so our lives can return to normality.”

Local business owners also spoke out about the strike’s impact. Said Hussein, who hails from Somalia, described the business situation on the platinum belt as “dire”.

“I have been making between R15 000 and R20 000 from the goods I sell, but it has been tough in recent months. Moving out of the area is not an option: I can’t even afford to rent a truck to help me go somewhere else.”

An employee at Lonmin on his way to work yesterday didn’t want to be named, but told The Citizen he has constantly been worried about his safety.

“There has been threats by a group of striking mineworkers who have been deployed here,” he said.