Soup kitchen feeds famished Marikana

The soup kitchen is run by locals and provides two meals a day to the families of mineworkers.

Church members volunteer at a soup kitchen to feed Wonderkop residents in Marikana on 16 May 2014. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN

MARIKANA - Residents of the Wonderkop informal settlement in Marikana are this morning heading out to a local soup kitchen for what may be their only meal of the day as a strike by mineworkers in the area has left many without food or money.

Church members begin cooking at 6am everyday to prepare food for 200 people in Marikana. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN

The soup kitchen is run by locals in the township and provides two meals a day to the families of mineworkers.

About 24,000 Lonmin miners who are Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) members have been on strike for four months, and the work stoppage is estimated to have cost more than R7 billion in wages.

Lonmin Platinum said many of its employees were struggling to survive, and while Amcu set up a trust fund to help their family members, community members in Marikana are doing what they can to supply food.

The army and police were deployed in Marikana as more workers are expected to return to work after months of strike. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

The soup kitchen is one of many initiatives by residents here to alleviate increasing poverty due to the strike.

Video: Police crack down on violence.

But Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said the salaries workers were receiving before they went on strike were already too little to survive.

"The money they received from the mines was too little and can't sustain them for a month, hence to go to work and to not go to work is just the same."

Picture: EWN.

The kitchen is expected to open later this morning and will feed about 200 people.

Meanwhile, Lonmin on Thursday advised employees who feared for their safety to rather stay at home.

The mining giant told workers that it was not worth risking their lives to return to their posts.

Lonmin said some of its employees, including striking Amcu members, started returning to work on Thursday.

Non-striking miners reporting for duty in Marikana. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.


Meanwhile, Anglo Platinum Mine (Amplats) said it may consider handing out nutrition packs to its employees who were arriving at the mine's hospital to renew their medical clearance certificates, as they have been found to be too malnourished to take their chronic medication.

Amplats yesterday revealed that its doctors could not prescribe medicine to the miners and some of them had been missing out on their regular treatment.

The company's spokesperson Mpumi Sithole said they were exploring all the possible interventions.

"We want to ensure our employees are fit enough to take their medication. We're looking at various options where we can help them."