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Exploiting miners entrenches poverty - report

A local NGO has painted a dim picture regarding the lives of miners and their living conditions.

Striking workers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine continue to demand R12,500 in wages. Picture: Taurai Maduna/Eyewitness News.

CAPE TOWN - A non-governmental organisation (NGO) on Wednesday briefed Parliament's mineral resources portfolio committee about the plight of mine workers and communities along the platinum belt.

Faith-based NGO, Bench Marks, compiled a report examining the health and social problems facing those living in the Bojanala District in the North West.

The issue was thrust into the spotlight when rock drill operators at Marikana mine embarked on an illegal strike in August.

Bench Mark's researcher David van Wyk began by highlighting the high level of youth unemployment in the Bojanala District.

"This is a recipe for uprisings and revolt. It is a big problem."

He said collapsing sewage systems, mushrooming informal settlements and deteriorating water quality are just some of the problems affecting residents.

The report warns continuing to pay miners low wages only entrenches poverty, joblessness and inequality.

On the Marikana strike, van Wyk dismissed claims that it was sparked by inter-union rivalry.

He said Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) had been recruiting among workers who were not unionised.

The strike ended on Tuesday after mine management reached an agreement with the miners.

At least 35 people lost their lives in August following clashes with police.