South Africa Striking Figure

The rise of a miner's grandson

The 21-day walkout had just ended, but Cyril Ramaphosa could not slow down. The general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers was in his Johannesburg office at 7 a.m. to arrange for the reinstatement of 37,000 workers who had been fired during the strike. An hour later, Ramaphosa received shocking news: an explosion at the St. Helena gold mine in the Orange Free State had killed ten miners outright and snapped an elevator cable, sending at least 52 other workers plunging to their deaths. For the rest of that day and into the night, Ramaphosa received almost hourly reports on...

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