Steven Tau
3 minute read
15 Jul 2014
1:00 pm

Life moving back to normal at Marikana (video)

Steven Tau

Although it is happening at a snail's pace, life in Marikana is getting better by the day following the near five-months strike led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), residents and small business owners alike believe.

A mine worker returns home from work, 14 July 2014, in Marikana, North West Province. Residents are seeing an increase in local trade following the five month mine worker strike in the area. Picture: Alaister Russell

The Citizen visited the Nkaneng informal settlement where many mineworkers who ply their trade at Lonmin platinum mine reside.

Reuben Masenya who runs a welding business, said he was happy that life was slowly returning to normal.

“I am happy that my business will start picking up as mineworkers will start getting paid again for being at work, because the five months that they were on strike, made it difficult for every human being living here to survive and most importantly to support our children.

“I was forced to leave my daily job as a welder, and seek piece jobs because my business was not generating any money,” a visibly happy Masenya said.

Masenya makes anything from complete window frames to burglar doors.

A resident businessman works on burglar bars, 14 July 2014, in Marikana, North West Province. Residents are seeing an increase in local trade following the five month mine worker strike in the area. Picture: Alaister Russell

A resident businessman works on burglar bars, 14 July 2014, in Marikana, North West Province. Residents are seeing an increase in local trade following the five month mine worker strike in the area. Picture: Alaister Russell

Thabiso Moeketsi who own a little tuck shop situated a few metres from the Lonmin mine, said he was forced to return home to Lesotho during the first two months of the strike.

“I just came back here last weekend, and so far I can see positive signs of business improving again so that I can take care of my children.

“The strike had a negative effect on everyone living here… it was not only mineworkers who were feeling the pinch of the strike, but everyone who lives on the platinum belt,” Moeketsi added.

Christian Masango who originally hails from Mozambique, said the end of the strike meant nothing for him as he and his family continue to struggle.

“I was once employed at the mine as a contract worker, but following the 2012 violent strike, things just went bad for me and my family as my contract was not renewed.

“Life is very tough,” Masango said.

Outside his shack, Masango’s pregnant daughter was seen trying to recook what looked to be pap.

A woman carries wood back to her home in Marikana, 14 July 2014, in the North West Province. Residents are seeing an increase in local trade following the five month mine worker strike in the area. Picture: Alaister Russell

A woman carries wood back to her home in Marikana, 14 July 2014, in the North West Province. Residents are seeing an increase in local trade following the five month mine worker strike in the area. Picture: Alaister Russell

But resident Pulane Pitso said she was happy that the strike was over.

“Our lives are starting to get better and more importantly for our children who at times during the strike were forced to stay absent from school as their school shoes were worn out.

“Things are looking better now for us since the return to work by our husbands, and already they received some monies for returning to work,” Pitso said.

Other residents who did not want to be named, said they were equally happy that life was getting back to normal, while others refused to speak to The Citizen, or have photographs of themselves taken, citing security reasons.

“As much as we want to talk, we are just fearing for our lives… maybe some people would not be happy with what we are going to say.”

A sign promoting the local Lonmin mine is pictured, 14 July 2014, in Marikana, North West Province. Residents are seeing an increase in local trade following the five month mine worker strike in the area. Picture: Alaister Russell

A sign promoting the local Lonmin mine is pictured, 14 July 2014, in Marikana, North West Province. Residents are seeing an increase in local trade following the five month mine worker strike in the area. Picture: Alaister Russell

Meanwhile, many small business stalls that were shut down for the duration of strike, were again fully operational, while mineworkers were seen on the way to work, dressed in their overalls, gumboots and hard hats.

In the height of the mid-year school holidays, many children were spotted playing soccer at the Wonderkop Stadium

Amcu officially called the strike off on June 23, following a three year wage agreement with Lonmin, Impala and Anglo platinum mines.