'We really need more money'
Making ends meet is a daily struggle for the striking workers at Gold Fields Mine in Carletonville on the West Rand as their salaries fall short of enabling them to do so.
About 15,000 mineworkers have been on strike over wages since early September, demanding an increase to R12,500.
On the other hand, the mine's CEO Nick Holland earns R36.6-million a year, including a performance based bonus, according to media reports.
"If management doesn't fix the situation and listen to the workers, we might end up with another Marikana situation on our hands," said miner Mkhululi Mngwangwa, who was washing laundry in a filthy communal bathroom during Sowetan's visit to the workers' hostel recently.
At Lonmin in Marikana, North West, 44 people including two policemen, two guards and mineworkers died in the violence that erupted after the workers had gone on strike, also demanding a pay hike to R12,500.
Mngwangwa said their strike was different to Marikana when it started.
"The main issue was that the salary scale was not the same," he said. "Each shaft was using its own scale, which was unfair."
He stays with a friend in a bathroom-sized room in Ekuthuleni Hostel. They sleep in a double bunk and have little space to store their belongings.
Three other miners live in the adjacent two rooms; and they all share the bathroom and lounge. The three communal showers don't have doors and the toilets are broken.
Ekuthuleni is a hostel for single men with a small marketplace at the entrance with stalls for loose cigarettes, fruits and chips.
The prices at the main supermarket where miners buy most of their groceries are inflated. A 10kg bag of maize meal and flour is sold for R60, R10 more than its normal price, while a 2-litre bottle of Coca-Cola, which normally costs R13, is R19 at the supermarket.
Besides the prices, other facilities like banks and, in some instances, clinics are only available 10km away in Carletonville.
Mngwangwa's R8,000 take-home salary is not enough to cater for his expenses as he has to send money home to Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape.
His monthly expenses include R3,000 for his two children at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, R2,500 for his wife and another R600 for school transport for his other two children.
He spends R1,000 on groceries, leaving him with less than R1,000 to spend on his other needs.
Elias Nkuna, 51, of Letsatsing village, has been working at Gold Fields as a plumber since 1985. He earns R4,000. He has four children and his wife is unemployed.
"I have to pay R20 for a taxi to drive me to town if I need a clinic, bank or post office.
"We are not getting proper services here and people seem to think we are exaggerating when we demand R12,000," Nkuna said.