Former Optimum miners call for government’s intervention

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Former mineworkers at the Optimum mine in Hendrina in Mpumalanga who lost their jobs when the mine was handed over to a business rescue practitioner in February are calling on the government to intervene.

About 4000 workers lost their jobs when the struggling Gupta owned mine was closed down and placed under business rescue. The former workers allege that the mine still owes them six months’ salaries.

Karabo Sejanamane had worked at the mine for four years and she has been kicked out of the house she rented because she couldn’t afford to pay rent.

She now survives through hand-outs from Good Samaritans.

“I have been evicted because of the situation. I could not pay anymore then I had to squat with a friend with my 16-year-old boy. Having to share one room and we also get food from charities because we can not afford to feed ourselves anymore. It’s Christmas, unfortunately, it’s a black one.”

More job losses are on the cards in the mining sector. And It’s hitting hard in towns where mining is the mainstay of local economies.

Rustenburg in the North West is one such place. In the last two decades, the mining industry has shed thousands of jobs due to restructuring or the shutdown of unproductive shafts. Industry stakeholders are planning a future away from mining for retrenched mineworkers.