The Children of Marikana

It is December 2012. School Holidays. These children playing soccer in the Tharisa mine relocated village for former farm workers.

It is December 2012. School Holidays. These children playing soccer in the Tharisa mine relocated village for former farm workers.

Former farm workers' children living in the relocation village created by Tharisa mine, Marikana.

Former farm workers’ children living in the relocation village created by Tharisa mine, Marikana.

The children of Ikaneng Squatter Camp.

The children of Ikaneng Squatter Camp.

Growing up in Ikaneng Squatter Camp, next to Rowland Shaft, Marikana.

Growing up in Ikaneng Squatter Camp, next to Rowland Shaft, Marikana.

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It is mid December and it is rain season. The squatter camp turns into a muddy quagmire.

It is mid December and it is rain season. The squatter camp turns into a muddy quagmire.

Kids in Ikaneng sharing a loaf of bread

Kids in Ikaneng sharing a loaf of bread

Eating a shared loaf of bread.

Eating a shared loaf of bread.

I took these photos in December 2012 at the height of the rain season. I took the pictures of the Ikaneng squatter camp children just outside the “Never Say Die” tavern. Ikaneng borders on Wonderkop where the Marikana massacre took place. The children of Ikaneng must have witnessed the shooting of striking workers on 16 August 2012, and have experienced the loss of fathers and brothers in the event. I know that many of the workers who were wounded were retrenched given that they are unable to do the hard physical work they did before the event. What worries me is that no one has written about the children, no one has given space for their voices to be heard. There is no trauma counselling for the children of this community. Ikaneng squatter camp and the adjacent Baphong village are communities ravaged by HIV/Aids and there are many child headed families. Many young girls often under age, sell their bodies for money to be able to feed siblings. I have also looked at company information on Rowland shaft and know that this shaft is nearing the end of its life. Rowland shaft along with the twelve or so other Lonmin Shafts in Marikana were bought from Gencor in 1968. The white workers were accommodated in Mooinooi, a beautiful leafy mining town with all the spiritual, sport and recreational facilities one could think of. Forty six years later and the black workers of Lonmin live in the mess that is called Marikana. The main street in Mooinooi is Lonrho road. Rowland Shaft is so named after Tiny Rowland, the person who created the London Rhodesia Company and who was a major ‘sanctions buster’ supporting both the Rhodesian and Apartheid South African Regimes.

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8 comments

  1. Second image haunting… Sassy little diva, her scarlet cap and hot pink suit screaming of indivuality and girlie dreams, and in front of her, the barbed wire, the painful restrictions. Simple yet profound symbolism.

  2. David van Wyk · · Reply

    Yes Mort your observations are keen and insightful. The problem with much of what we do ignores the kids, takes them for granted, yet they seem to be clamoring to be heard.

  3. David I really value this piece of writing and photography. The children have been the invisibles in this discourse and in this tragedy. Unseen and unheard. What will become of them? That question hasn’t even been asked. Thank you for seeing them.

  4. Dear Mandy, thank you for the comments. In December, a week before I took these photos a sixteen year old girl was murdered. The situation of children in these communities is really precarious and some intervention is required. I am not aware of any research being done on children in informal settlements around mines.

  5. Thabang · · Reply

    Point of correction, the place is nkaneng and the tarven is never die. The place is not healthy with no roads and ppl die almost every week in and out bcz sum1 is not doing his job. If the mine was taking care of their workers. They should have made atleast a gravel so that when ambulance cum to collect patience they go easily. During rainy season many ppl die bcz some of the street cars dont go through. Even if u hv ur own car smbdy can die bcz of these muddy street. Where is safety here! Bt the mine says its practising safety to its workers.

    1. Thank you for the corrections Thabang. I agree with the rest of your statement. The mine is supposed to have a social and labour plan, and the district and local governments are supposed to have IDPs and LEDs. Conditions in and around Marikana suggests that there is no delivery or minimal delivery on all these programs.

  6. Yes. Guys even the money they were fiting for they don’t have

  7. mahlatsi · · Reply

    The offspring of inequty….the billionaires only want to exploit the “choiceless” huge supply of cheap labour, and this children are expected to survive from their parents peanuts, while the mines genarate billions of dollars for foreign capital…5000 years later, africa still cries freedom…None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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