South Africa Back Home for the Holidays

A miner returns to his family

Under a blazing sun and cloudless sky, Vincent Olebogeng strolls past an ore bucket spray-painted MERRY XMAS 86. Though the temperature is 87 degreesF, Olebogeng considers the weather cool relief. Thirty minutes earlier, he was two miles underground, moving tons of dusty gray ore in the almost unbearable heat of Durban Deep, a gold mine at Roodeport, ten miles west of Johannesburg. He has worked nearly 300 days in the past year, but he will not work tomorrow. After the paymaster hands him a brown envelope containing his monthly wages of 270 rand ($122), Olebogeng is ready to travel more than...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!