The miners he represents are starving. Some are malnourished, and cannot take the medication for their chronic and life-threatening diseases.
But Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union president, Joseph Mathunjwa, is not suffering the same deprivation.
A lifestyle audit by the Daily News sister paper, The Star, shows that the union leader lives in opulence.
And his wealth is not something he hides. He arrives at meetings in luxury vehicles, surrounded by bodyguards and wearing expensive suits.
At Wonderkop Stadium in Marikana last Wednesday, Mathunjwa received a hero’s welcome as he arrived in a convoy of sleek vehicles, including two BMWs, to address workers.
His message was clear-cut: Resilience in the face of capitalist mine bosses who wanted to break the four-month-long strike using unscrupulous means.
Mathunjwa has three BMWs registered in his name. He owns a 3-series sedan acquired in 2002, an X5 automatic since 2010 and a 3-series since last July.
The Star calculated that the vehicles are worth about R900 000.
Mathunjwa also has three houses listed under his name that, according to deeds searches, have bonds on them worth about R1 million in total.
One of the properties is a four-star guest house that has recently been renovated.
The property advertises itself as having eight en-suite rooms that cost R595 per person a night.
According to an e.tv story aired earlier this year, the houses are worth more than R5m.
Mathunjwa’s wife Nokuthula is a director of several businesses.
The companies are Amatigulu Investments CC, End of Tie Trading and Projects CC, Lingashoni Guest House (Pty) Ltd, Lingashoni Investments CC, Thulheo Construction and Enterprises (Pty) Ltd and Tingapix (Pty) Ltd.
A January article in The New Age newspaper said Mathunjwa had six vehicles registered in his name.
Lerato Molebatsi, Lonmin’s executive vice-president of communications and public affairs, said Mathunjwa did not receive any benefits for his position as president of the majority union at the company.
“What he does get is subscription from his members. But since the strike started, the subscriptions have stopped because it’s no work, no pay. At the moment I think there is only the strike fund, into which people contribute as sympathisers.”
Mathunjwa did not respond to many phone calls and SMSes.