The Silent Protest at Wits happened last Friday, April 19.
Wits cleaners will continue striking until they earn a minimum wage of R4 300 per month.They say the R 1800 they earn doesn’t cover all their expenses.
Forty nine year old Sara Phalane, a Supercare cleaner, says she decided to sell snacks when the strike began to generate some income during the ‘no work no pay’ strike. The single mother of four says she makes about R60 per day, which is not enough for her expenses.
Phalane says the R1 800 she earns as a cleaner is spent on food and clothes bought at a low cost and she can’t satisfy her kids the way she wants to.
“I failed to pay my son’s school trip and he was unhappy. Poverty is ruining my family’s happiness.”
Phalane dreamed of becoming a social worker but her dreams were crushed when she dropped out of school in Standard 3. “I regret dropping out, I feel like I failed my children, but I wish they could get education and better their lives.”
Carovone cleaner Monica Tlhaole says her son blames her for his drug addiction. Her son started smoking nyaope (a drug that contains heroin) after she couldn’t afford to buy him a suit for his matric dance.
“He calls me all sorts of names when he is high. He even blamed me for smoking nyaope.
“He once said who am I to tell him to get an education when I am just a cleaner who can’t afford to buy them (siblings) clothes and sometimes food.”
The 38-year-old mother of three says her son wanted to be a meteorologist but “nyaope destroyed his dreams”.
“I blame myself for my son’s failures, I failed him.”
Tlhaole says she has a matric certificate but could not further her studies because of financial problems.
Tears ran down her cheeks when she tells us that her son has turned into a thief who even steals from her house and beats his younger sister.
A middle-aged male cleaner who asked not to be named says he feels like he is not man enough because he cannot provide for his family properly.
“I can’t pay lobolo for the mother of my two kids… how can I afford to pay R10 000 lobolo with my R1 800 salary?”