Poverty is forcing residents of Blaaubosch, near Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal, to put their lives at risk mining coal.
More than 1000 families pay the owner of the land on which they work R50 each to mine coal. They spend hours deep underground searching for coal and crawl about a kilometre underground to get to the coal face.
Lucy Ndumi, 48, said she has spent many years mining coal in the area so that she can feed her family.
"I chose to be a miner so that I can raise my children and send them to school. We have no formal jobs in the area. We all survive by risking our lives through mining," she said.
Ndumi buys food for her seven children with the money she gets from selling coal. She has taught them how to mine.
"I have no choice but to teach my children how to do this dangerous job. It is the only way we can survive. If I die they will be able to feed themselves," she said.
Ndumi said she was forced to work underground after her mother died in 2001. She said she had been told to stop mining after some people died while mining.
December Nyembe, 30, said he chose to put his life at risk so that he could feed his younger sisters.
"My parents died and there was no one to take care of the family. I have been looking for a job for many years to no avail," he said.
Nyembe said falling rocks killed three people last year.
"I have hired people to mine coal for me. I use the coal to make a fire so that I can bake bricks. People die while mining, but it does not stop," said Johannes Ndlovu, 55.