Asanda Benya, a sociology researcher and Phd student speaking on women in Marikana. Photo: Percy Matshoba

WOMEN POWER: Asanda Benya, a sociology researcher and Phd student speaking about the role of women in supporting Marikana. Photo: Percy Matshoba

A Wits researcher is challenging dominant narratives about Marikana by highlighting the role of women in the community after the shootings of local miners on August 16, 2012.

Speaking at a seminar at Wits University this week, sociology researcher Asanda Benya said “the voices of women have been silenced in the narrative about Marikana.”

Benya said that when the male miners lost their jobs in 2012 the women used their stokvels and other saving schemes to fund the men and the strikes that subsquently took place.

She said that although they were not directly involved in the strikes, the women sustained the protests by cooking and raising funds. The women also worked to secure the release of 270 miners who were arrested in the aftermath of the shootings.

She said that the notion that “women have not been active in the strikes” is not true.

“Women of Marikana are active agents,” she said emphasising that the women did not only support the miners but also actively taking charge in order to ensure the wellbeing of their community.

“The women of Marikana’s lives are ordered by the mines” said Benya. “The victories and challenges at work is what they talk about every time”

“The mine forms their way of being, their way of living”

Master’s student in Industrial Sociologist, Patricia Ndlovu said that the injustices happening in Marikana were not unique to other economic issues faced by other people living in informal settlements.

“There are a lot of informal settlements in South Africa operating like Marikana,” she said.

Asked about what needs to be done in Marikana Benya said “everything”. She said the living conditions of the people in Marikana does not resemble a constitutional South Africa.

“The government needs to do something to help the people of Marikana, it’s their responsibility,” she said.