Supporters of the Marikana miners arrive for the lecture. Photo: Dinesh Balliah.

Students are encouraged to donate food items to the striking miners of Marikana and their families.  Photo: Dinesh Balliah.

Approximately 70 000 workers from platinum mines in the North West and Limpopo provinces remain on strike in the effort to secure a basic salary of R12 500.

And while the strike enters its 16th week, the families of the miners are looking to welfare organisations and donors from across the country for food they can no longer afford.

In an effort to help those affected, the Marikana Support Committee and the Wits Sociology department have brought the initiative to Wits University to allow staff and students to make a contribution.

Prof Noor Nieftagodien, who is involved in the Marikana Support Committee, says the  situation is becoming “increasingly desperate”, especially in terms of a “worsening humanitarian crisis.”

Student support

Nieftagoden says the response at Wits has been “very slow” but students who are aware of the campaign have been “very enthusiastic.”

At present, Wits has only collected R3000 and two food parcels. Nieftagodien hopes that the Student Representative Council (SRC) and student organisations will begin to mobilise support this week and that students will help raise awareness about the situation.

He says that the main aim of this initiative is “to make a humanitarian intervention” and provide food and other basic necessities. The project was initiated by two Masters students from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the Marikana Support Committee. Last week UJ delivered approximately 90 food parcels to the area and is set to make a second delivery this week.

The 70 000 striking workers provide support to approximately 150 000 to 200 000 people. “We cannot allow poor people to go hungry, especially not in the year that we celebrate 20 years of democracy,” said Nieftagodien.

Do donate

Students are encouraged to donate what they can (food, clothes or monetary) and donations can be sent to Ingrid Chunilal or Sedzani Malada in the Wits Sociology department.

Alternatively, the School of Literature, Language and Media Studies has arranged for students to drop off food and/or clothing parcels in Room SH3159 on Friday, May 23, between 8am and 1pm.