Rustenburg - There were times when Eduardo Muchave’s clients were exclusively men.
The 41-year-old Mozambican is a barber who operates out of a small tent in Marikana.
However, when the miners’ strike intensified, leaving many people out of pocket, Muchave started having new clients: women who wanted to cut their hair as they couldn’t afford expensive hairstyles anymore.
“They would tell me they have no money to go to a hair salon and that it’s better if they cut their hair. Some men brought their wives to me to cut their hair. They would say: ‘Please cut my wife’s hair. I don’t have money to take her to a hair salon and I also don’t have money to pay you, but you can see how her hair is’.”
Muchave said he charges R20 for a haircut. Many people would arrive at his tent with no money. Some would come with only R5. He has cut many people’s hair on credit and believes he is owed about R1 200.
Although he would spend the whole day cutting people’s hair, he would sometimes return home empty-handed as the miners would have no money to pay him. He also battled to take care of his family.
“Some said they did not know when they would pay me back, and as it is, I don’t know if I will ever get my money back,” he said.
“But I could not say no to them. These are the people I live with, and if I need help tomorrow, they would help me. I could not let them go around with unkempt hair.
“Sometimes they came to me asking to borrow money and I had to help.
“They were on a strike, and I understood.”
Muchave is elated that the country’s longest strike is over because it means that he will stop cutting hair on credit and will start to make some money to feed his family.
“The days of eating cabbage are over. I want meat now,” he said.