Mineweb correspondents investigate conditions and perspectives in Rustenburg – the town at the heart of a strike in South Africa’s platinum sector.
RUSTENBURG (MINEWEB) – When workers sell their hard earned possessions to buy food in the platinum belt of Rustenburg for lack of earnings after nine weeks of a brutal strike one can conclude bread-and-butter politics truly have the region in its grip.
Many stores are shuttered, except pawn shops, which are overflowing with household items that have been sold for next to nothing. In Rustenburg homes, cooking pots once filled with solid chicken cuts now swim with chicken heads and feet instead.
“I would love to talk to you about what is going on but the problem is that I am just too hungry and I need to look for something to eat. The problem is here,” says a middle-aged man, pointing to his abdomen.
His point made, the man, who claims to be a worker in the Karee Mine at Lonmin in Marikana, Rustenburg, South Africa, walks slowly away down the dusty street.
PAWNING – FOR GOOD
Moneyweb reporters, associated with Mineweb, recently visited Rustenburg to gauge the impact of the strike on daily life in a town that is host to the world’s two largest platinum mines on the western limb of the Bushveld igneous complex.
We walk into a pawn shop overflowing with possessions. A woman graciously greets us and as we introduce ourselves and tell her why we are here she lightens up, eyes brimming with tears.
“I have been buying goods for next to nothing,” she says. “People are selling stuff just to get a loaf of bread which has resulted in new clientele for my pawn shop. The other day, someone tried to sell their gumboots. Others are selling their work tools and this is affecting the business because there is only so much I can buy.
“I have never had a lot of clients but now I have on average 10 to 15 more clients on daily basis,” she continues. “Some walk all the way from their communities carrying their TV’s. It is very sad and some kids are not going to school which compounds the problem because kids get food at school. When the last strike hit it was hard. But this time it’s even harder.”
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