A miner 'does the right thing' by voting

Marikana mineworker Thabang Booysen voted because 'that is the only voice of the electorate'. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Marikana mineworker Thabang Booysen voted because 'that is the only voice of the electorate'. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Thabang Booysen is burning dry grass in a shallow hole in the back yard of an RDP house in Wonderkop near Marikana on a cold Tuesday night.

The 34-year-old mineworker at Lonmin says he does not want to be idle during the platinum miners’ strike, which has been going on for almost three and a half months.

“I would rather clean up the yard,” he says.

Lights glitter from the nearby Lonmin shaft and faintly illuminate the surroundings.

Booysen opens the front door and enters the room. He gropes around in the dark, looking for the light switch. He finds it.
A bulb dangling from the ceiling comes on.

The room is divided into a kitchen and a dining room. We sit down on the L-shaped couch. Booysen tells me that he moved in in 2004 when he was still unemployed.

Two years later, he found a job at Lonmin as an engineering artisan’s assistant.

A third-time voter, Booysen says his house and job are the two things he has enjoyed under the ANC government. The community hall, built by the Madibeng municipality, is within walking distance from his home.  

He has some gripes, though. He says water is scarce and there is a lack of street lights. The dusty streets where there are RDP houses are not tarred. “When it rains the kids can’t go to school because our roads become muddy and inaccessible.”

These are important issues for his community, and he believes they should be prioritised.

The strike has also taken its toll. “This morning I went to see the principal of my child’s school; I had to explain why I’d failed to cough up the monthly school fees and he understood.”

He chuckles when I ask him to comment on the performance of the ANC government under President Jacob Zuma.

He leans back on the couch. “I don’t know politics so much,” he says.

He says there is corruption in the government and he is concerned about the money spent on Zuma’s Nkandla homestead. He is concerned that corruption cripples the delivery of services.

He adds that crime is a problem in the community and wishes that the police were more visible.

On the eve of the elections, Booysen tells me that he is determined to cast his ballot because “that is the only voice of the electorate”.

On Wednesday, he is number 14 in the queue to vote at a polling station at the Maruatona Primary School in Wonderkop.

“I’m doing the right thing,” he says.

Rapula Moatshe

Rapula Moatshe

Rapula Moatshe is the Mail & Guardian's Eugene Saldanha fellow for 2014.He obtained a freelance journalism diploma in 2000 and went on to study BA Communication Science through Unisa. He worked as the news editor for the Rosebank Killarney Gazette, a community newspaper under the umbrella of Caxton Group.In 2012, Rapula underwent a three-month internship programme at the Mail and Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism, amaBhungane, where he sharpened his investigative skills. During his stay with amaBhungane he exposed how the former mayor of Rustenburg municipality continued to draw his salary whilst behind bars, serving murder sentence.His journalism career started in 2005 when he worked for BuaNews (now called the South African News Agency) as a freelance reporter in North West, covering the developmental news.He worked for regional newspapers such as the Mpumalanga News and the Lowvelder, where he exposed a gang of criminals who would cross the Mozambican border to commit robberies and murders in South Africa, near the Lebombo border gate, and then flee back to their home country. Read more from Rapula Moatshe

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