So this is the last day of the trip and I only had to find two more of the miners to complete my initial aim of photographing 56. Because the mines in Welkom were all near to the town it seems that many of the miners still live very central. Many of them in the same houses that they were living in when they were working.
The journey to find and photograph the miners has been quite long and hard at times but has really opened my eyes to the reality of their struggles since losing their means to work. Now I need to process all of these photographs along with all of the experiences that I have had in the last 20 days.
Mantso Mokoena was born in 1962 and started working in the mines in 2001. Before he was a miner he was working as a policeman. He left the police force because he felt that even though the mine work was hard and badly paid, it was a better option than being in the police force during apartheid.
He was diagnosed with stage 2 silicosis in 2007 at the mine hospital and continued working until the laws were changed in 2009 and the mine was no longer allowed to employ him die to his illness.
Mr Mokoena was one of the luckier miners who received a good education before he went to work on the mines. This meant that he had the tools to retrain after he was retrenched and he is now working as a paralegal in Welkom.
Malepa Puso is 62 years old and lives in Welkom in the Free State. He lives with his wife, Mantwa and their 4 children in the house that he bought from the mines for R14000 after they closed in 2005. He worked at Free State Geduld mine for 24 years and worked his way up from being a winch driver to being a supervisor. He has 1st degree silicosis and received R30,000 in compensation. He now works as a gardener at the local school.