South Africa Trouble from Belowground

Nearly 300,000 miners walk up from the job

South Africa's gold and coal mines are in the best of times harsh places where thousands of blacks live in crowded hostels far removed from their homes and families. The mines were closed to journalists last week as a long-threatened strike, the largest in South Africa's history, began. But the walkout was scarcely three days old before stories of trouble started to spread.

At the Blinkpan colliery, police arrested five miners in connection with the strangulation of a black worker who defied the strike call. At the Harmony mine, owners fired 74 miners who were said to have damaged the underground...