Authors: Tony Davies
Source: Sacema Quarterly; Issue 4 November, 2009
South Africa is faced with a public health catastrophe due, in part at least, to the mining activity, which laid the foundation of our economy. Since the discovery of diamonds around Kimberley in 1870 and gold on the Witwatersrand less than twenty years later, mining has been the mainspring of our economy. As a direct result of the need for large numbers of unskilled workers, and the recruitment methods developed to ensure that this need was met, the migrant labour system became deeply entrenched in southern Africa.
In the mines millions of men – many women and some children – have worked in dangerous and dusty conditions.