16 Days Of Activism: Meet Sindiswa (54) from Marikana – South Africa
In 1999 I came from Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape to stay with my sister who was working as a cleaner in the mine at Marikana. I was married before but my husband, who was working in a coal mine in Springs, left me. I worked for a short time as a domestic and then on a tea farm and did some other piece work. I hoped I would find a job here.
I dated someone I met here soon after I arrived but he left in 2003 to go back home to his wife and children in Mozambique. I have heard that he has since passed away. Now I don’t have a partner. I live with my 27 year old son who came here a year ago. He is unemployed but he wants to work at the mine.
We stay in two rooms in an area where there is no water or electricity. But it is a piece of land that I paid R15 to the community office who has allocated to it me so I don’t have to pay any rent. For money I pick up scrap metal or plastic from the area. I do this together with two other women and we split the cost of transport to take our collections in for recycling. I earn about R500 to R600 every two weeks doing this.
My sister that was working at the mine has passed away. I have another sister here that sells alcohol and my brother is working at the mine. I know if I really need some support they will help me out. It is hard here, if I need some food I open a tab at the local shop but I don’t borrow money.
Back home my parents have passed away and there are no opportunities to earn any money. At least here I know I will get something from picking up scrap. But I will probably return back to the Eastern Cape when I start receiving a pension.
The massacre was a very bad experience for me. My brother was missing for days and I didn’t know if he was okay. He had ran away to a nearby area and stayed there for a while. In the immediate aftermath of the massacre we came together as women. We knew each other before because we live in this area together but we were not that close. The tragedy made us more united and we support each other now.
I divide my time between Sikhala Sonke and picking up scrap. Sikhala Sonke gives me a sense of community. We are tired of doing nothing about our situation and we hope that through this organisation we will be able to support each other.
Please click here to read more about our series of articles on the Marikana Women.