Local relief agency Gift of the Givers has begun feeding the families of white miners affected by the ongoing strike in the platinum mining belt. Two buses with representatives of these families travelled in convoy with Gift of the Givers to the Rustenburg Mines on Monday. Food parcels were distributed to both black and white families.
On Sunday, the NGO located the first white families who would receive aid. 15 000 white miners are reportedly affected by the strike. The organisation has in the past two weeks supplied 7 000 struggling black miners and their families with food parcels, fed 13 000 with hot meals and provided medical care to 1 000 patients. The organisation’s Emily Thomas said they distributed hot food, distributing food and clothing packs on Monday.
“People are calm and well behaved. The surrounding communities are also coming to collect aid and we have made extra provisions like additional bread and mealie meal,” said GOTG’s Emily Thomas.
Despite some criticism that relief agencies are prolonging the strike by assisting the miners, Thomas said they would continue their work.
“The food parcels will last them for just a week. They have been struggling for five months now so there is no way this food can prevent them from striking,” she added.
Approximately 80 000 mine workers are directly being affected by the strikes. Thomas said miners are selling their possessions to support their families.
“They are selling their microwaves and stoves to survive,” she said.
Children are the ones who are the worst affected by the strike.
“How do you explain to a child that we don’t have, because there is no money?”
There are not many children approaching the NGO for food as they are attending school, however GOTG does distribute sweet packets for children.
Thomas fears that the economic conditions would aggravate the social circumstances of these families. She warned that an agreement between miners and the mining bosses should be settled as soon as possible.
“Hunger and poverty is linked to violence and abuse. People are suffering from depression. A hungry man is an angry man and we don’t want this to worsen.”
The relief agency will be in the region for the next two weeks covering various mine shafts in the Rustenberg area. The Gift of the Givers Foundation is the largest disaster relief organisation of African origin on the continent. VOC (Nailah Cornelissen)