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CityPress - - News - LUBABALO NGCUKANA lubabalo.ngcukana@city­press.co.za

il­lage chief Xo­lile Ndevu says his com­mu­nity will dis­in­te­grate if min­ing giants Lon­min and An­glo Amer­i­can go ahead with their planned 12 000 job cuts.

Ndevu, who gov­erns three vil­lages – Mkhat­hazo, Mpame and Mnd­waka on the out­skirts of Mqan­duli in the for­mer Transkei – said 90% of his em­ployed male res­i­dents worked on the mines.

“This is a dis­as­ter wait­ing to hap­pen. One can­not even imag­ine the dam­age such a move would cre­ate in my vil­lages and oth­ers in sim­i­lar po­si­tions,” he said.

“If they go ahead with this, it will cre­ate or­phans, des­per­a­tion and more crime.”

Ndevu, the gen­eral sec­re­tary for the Congress of Tra­di­tional Lead­ers of SA, said he had warned his peo­ple – many of whom are il­lit­er­ate and work as rock-drill op­er­a­tors on mines – of pos­si­ble job cuts af­ter the strike at Marikana in 2012, and now his “worst fears have been con­firmed”.

“For a long time, our peo­ple, when they go work in these mines, would al­ways come back and buy a small herd of cat­tle and sheep. They grew maize and veg­eta­bles in their gar­dens. With­out sup­port, they will turn into crim­i­nals and thieves,” he said.

In re­mote Mkhat­hazo, a few kilo­me­ters from the Wild Coast’s pic­turesque Mpame beach, wives and grand­par­ents head fam­i­lies liv­ing in scat­tered ron­dav­els.

There is no elec­tric­ity, and only one com­mu­nal tap in each block. The roads, oc­cu­pied by blan­ket-clad old men and their young, un­em­ployed coun­ter­parts who carry fight­ing sticks, are dusty and al­most im­pass­able by car.

Cen­sus data re­veal just how de­pen­dent those who live there are on the mines. Only 5% of res­i­dents have jobs in the area, 34% have no ed­u­ca­tion at all, only 10% have com­pleted ma­tric and 31% are aged be­tween 10 and 19.

El­liot­dale

No­seven Mgcitheni (75) sits next to a sheep kraal with three of her grand­chil­dren: Zi­fik­ile (20), Ovayo (5) and Sivise (1).

Her fam­ily’s hope for a bet­ter life rests on her sons, Lu­vuyo (45) and Sivuy­ile (35).

Lu­vuyo is a rock-drill op­er­a­tor at Lon­min, which is sched­uled to shed 6 000 jobs, while Sivuy­ile, who once worked for the same mine, is now un­em­ployed. Her eldest son is mar­ried with two chil­dren and stays with his fam­ily in Marikana. She fears he could lose his job too.

Lu­vuyo has al­most fin­ished ex­tend­ing their three-room home, but Mgcitheni says that if he loses his job, they will be forced to re­main in their four mud ron­dav­els.

“This is send­ing us straight to the graves. We are old and our chil­dren are the ones tak­ing care of us. If they lose their jobs, it means the end of life for us. What are we go­ing to eat? And what will their chil­dren, my grand­chil­dren, eat?”

Nearby sits Mafida Mge­lana (57). He lost his job at An­glo Plat­inum in 2010 af­ter TB made him too sick to work. His son, Ndovela (30), now works at the same mine and his fam­ily’s hopes rest in his hands.

“We are look­ing to him as a fam­ily. He is the only bread­win­ner and he sup­ports the fam­ily, my wife and his four younger sib­lings. No­body at home is work­ing ex­cept him. If he lost his job, we would die from hunger be­cause there are no jobs here,” he said.

Lo­cal shop­keeper Al­bert Wolde, who is from Ethiopia and who runs a small café and a hard­ware shop in Mkhat­hazo, said mine work­ers were the com­mu­nity’s lifeblood – and his too.

“If the peo­ple in the mines lost their jobs, we would also have to close shop. The mine work­ers are the ones who sup­port our busi­nesses here,” he said.

Many mine work­ers have ac­counts with him and he keeps a tally in a book.

“As I speak to you, I am owed about R20 000 for this month. Most of them pay. But if they lose their jobs, they won’t be able to pay any more.”

Mthatha

Ngqe­leni

Mqan­duli 5% 34% 10% 31%

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