‘Our men work hard but they are hungry’

2012-08-19 10:00
Lucas Ledwaba
Busiwe Falo says sometimes her husband comes back home so tired he doesn’t even have the energy to eat.

He is one of the striking mineworkers at Lonmin who are demanding that their salaries be increased from R4 000 a month to R12 500.

“Our men are hungrymen. They are dying underground and they are sick from this work. They must be paid what is fair,” said Falo, who hails from Idutywa in the Eastern Cape.

Her husband earns R4 000 a month.

 They live in a shack in Nkaneng, for which they pay R600 rent a month.

She says that despite her husband’s back-breaking toil, life remains an uphill battle.

“Our menworkhard but they are hungry. We are also hungry. As I speak to you now, we have no
paraffin, no food in our home. That is why I came out here to show support for our men,” she said as a group of women marched and sang, carrying placards to throw their weight behind the strike.

Palesa Kgwarela said her father had worked on the mines in Rustenburg for the past 34 years – and still earned just R6 500 a month.

She is the first-born of seven children and said life was so hard that she struggled to get even the most basic of things, such as school shoes.

“We live in a two-roomed shack, all nine of us. My father is coughing a lot because of this work. If
things remain like this it means I will not be able to get a good education.”

Most of the women interviewed said their husbands suffered from back pains and respiratory ailments as a result of their work underground.

It is only fair, they said, that their hard work be rewarded accordingly.

But it seems the physical problems run deeper.

Said a woman who refused to be named: “They come back home so tired they don’t even want us to touch them at night.”