I took these photos in Baphong Village last week. Fernandez lives in a shack adjacent to the royal graveyard where village chiefs are buried. Fernandez is in his forties and can expect to work for another decade. He has two wives and eight children back home in Mozambique and is worried that he has very little to show for 23 years of work at Lonmin. Being a winch operator, he may be considered a skilled worker. He showed us a payslip and after deductions he seldom gets more than R 4000 per month. He earns too little to get a bank loan for a proper house and too much to qualify for an RDP house. Because he is a foreigner, he would have to go at the very end of the RDP housing list if he did qualify. His shack is within walking distance of the shaft where he works. There is very little by way of sport or recreation in Bapong village or any of the other infrastructure one would associate with a town. The inside of his shack shows that he is a very neat and tidy man, so does the outside. He approached us while we were in the graveyard and invited us to see how he is living. His situation is not unique, and it is not only Lonmin workers who find themselves in this kind of situation. It is common throughout the Platinum Belt. This is what it means to be an African migrant mine worker on South Africa’s mines.
The Life of A Machine Operator on a Platinum Mine