Rustenburg - One hour. 470 food parcels. Thousand of desperate miners. This was the scene that played out in Marikana on Monday as various organisations got together to provide relief to striking North West platinum miners.
A green tarpaulin laid in front of the Amplats Khuseleka miners was covered with clothes, food and nappies.
“Amazing eh? But it’s not enough,” said Reverend Brian Smith of Northfield Methodist Church in Benoni, one of the main organisers of the campaign to give food parcels to miners on strike.
Behind Smith stood a queue of more than 6 000 hungry people. But Smith’s church, the Gift of the Givers, the Democratic Left Front, the Marikana Support Campaign, the Socialist Workers Party UK, and the public, had brought only around 470 food parcels.
“It’s better than nothing,” said a striker who helped set out the parcels.
Within just another hour, all the goods were gone.
The queues looked like they hadn’t moved at all.
A local leader of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union undertook to get the names of people, in order, in the queue.
This food parcel effort was due to go on on Tuesday.
The initiative began a week ago, started by the Gauteng Miners Strike Community and Rehad Desai, of the Marikana Support Campaign and director of the documentary Miners Shot Down. Other community leaders, churches and the general public were asked to donate funds to purchase mealies, sugar, meat and cooking oil for the striking miners of the platinum belt.
More than R320 000 worth of food parcels were delivered to various Impala mines and Amplats’s Khuseleka mine on Monday.
Northfield Methodist Church had pledged to keep giving food parcels for the next three months at least, said Smith, who was inspired to take part in the campaign after watching Miners Shot Down.
“There are people (in the strike) that are hungry. Why would we choose not to feed hungry people?” Smith said.
The workers have been on strike for four months now. With no wages coming in, the strikers and their families depended on such donations.
“Gift of the Givers give food to keep the strikers strong on strike,” said Tebogo Madikwane, a miner watching over the queues.
“No one’s working at home,” said Christina Lehihi, whose husband died in the mines.
“I have three boys, two girls, and two grandchildren. How will I buy food, pay for them at school? What must I do?”
Lehihi was too far back in the line to receive anything. “I want that food tomorrow. We are hungry,” she said.
Many moms with babies on their backs needed food and milk formula. Right now, one mother said, they fed their babies by adding water and sugar to mealie meal. Their bodies had “diseases” so they did not breastfeed their babies.