It's a bloody history, no matter which way you want to spin it. For more than a century, labour on South African mines undermined the dignity of black people, treating them as disposable and not worthy of a living wage. There is no doubt that a lot has changed since the days when a mineworker would go underground and his family would worry whether he would come back at all, dead or alive. But the country is very far from reaching its goal of a mineworker being able to safely go underground and come back up unharmed. Frans Baleni, former miner and National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) member, recalled the early days of working for Anglo American. At Western Holdings mine in 1979, he said, conditions were so bad in mines that no fewer than 1000 people at some stage were killed underground every year. "We had no names," he said. "As a mineworker you were given a number - and you were going to use that throughout your employment. "And for strange reasons you will never forget that number,...

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