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Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

Hi there! I'm Kimberly Yow, a passionate journalist with a deep love for alternative rock. Combining my two passions, I've found my dream job. Join me on this exciting journey as I explore the world of journalism and rock music.

Exploited South African Miners Turn to Churches for Help

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Pastors help widows take on delayed pensions and negotiate peace amid violent labor disputes.

Like other widows of South African mine workers, Jane Anele was doubly wronged by the industry. The 58-year-old lost her husband to coal mining a decade ago, and his employer never paid the family his dues.

“My husband died of lung disease from digging coal for 20 years, and his pension has never been paid because the coal mine went defunct,” she said. “We are too poor to hire lawyers who charged us 90,000 South African rand ($4,500 USD) to pursue those who owe us. We are not that educated to start with, let alone dig for historical pensions claims and fill complex forms.”

Her last hope was to turn to the church.

In a country where lawyers, corporate human resources departments, and police are viewed with suspicion, Christian leaders are stepping in to advocate for South Africa’s discarded Black mine laborers and their families.

“We stand with Black miners and their descendants for a lifetime. I have attracted a lot of enemies and been vilified in government and mining industry circles over my stance,” said prophet Paseka Mboro, a controversial charismatic Pentecostal minister. “These gold and platinum mine corps are listed on the stock exchanges, and some of their ex-laborers sometimes can’t afford [pain relievers] in old age.”

South Africa’s mines took off in the late 1800s when imperialist mining magnate Cecil Rhodes and the Oppenheimer family struck gold and discovered diamond riches. For over a century, the country built its famous gold, platinum, and coal mine wealth on the sweat of migrant Black laborers.

Now, as the industry continues its slow decline, workers are suffering, aging in poverty, and dying from conditions contracted in the mines. And the job …

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