Hard times in platinum belt

Residents and businesses in the North West platinum belt are facing hardship because of the prolonged strike by miners, a debt counsellor said on Tuesday.

"In many cases small businesses have had to close their doors and are facing a bleak future with creditors hounding them for payment full well knowing that they are as much victims of the strike as the miners themselves," Debt Rescue CEO Neil Roets said in a statement.

Small and medium-sized businesses in Rustenburg and surrounding areas were facing a gloomy future. The number of people applying for debt counselling had more than tripled at Debt Rescue's Rustenburg branch because debt collectors were threatening to seize their belongings.

"Most of the people approaching us for help are now more than three months behind in their payments and their creditors are demanding payment," he said.

"Many have been threatened with immediate legal action and going under debt review is the only way to secure their property and prevent further legal action to be taken against them."

Roets said the strike had also affected business people in the Eastern Cape, where many of the miners had been remitting their salaries to their families.

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union at Lonmin, Impala Platinum, and Anglo American Platinum downed tools on January 23 demanding a basic monthly salary of R12,500.

The strike has cost the companies about R14.4 billion in revenue and workers have lost over R6.4bn in earnings.