A town's forgotten people
"I doubt this one will live for long," a mine worker jokes, referring to a malnourished puppy walking towards a dump site at the informal settlement at Lonmin's Marikana mine.
His colleagues laugh as they walk into a mineworkers' meeting at the Wonderkop informal settlement at the mine, 34km outside Rustenburg.
According to a recently published Bench Marks Foundation report commissioned by churches, families here live under extremely harsh conditions
The report says that the platinum mines are removing billions of rands in profits from platinum-rich North West but do little to develop mining communities, including those on Lonmin mines.
According to SA Council of Churches president Bishop Jo Seoka, Lonmin refused to discuss the report, which warned that violence could erupt at the mines.
The Times spoke to residents of Nkaneng, in Marikana, the town where 34 miners perished. The miners had nothing good to say about their lives.
With abject poverty, piles of rubbish and a lack of running water and electricity, residents have nothing except their corrugated iron shacks.
They have to wait until it is dark to relieve themselves in the bushes close to where the police clashed with the miners.
Toddlers are seen scavenging at a rubbish dump on the settlement's periphery. The mine shaft is the backdrop.
Boys hunting with a pack of dogs walk past the shaft with two catches of the day - giant rodents.
As the memorial service for the dead ended on Thursday, Matlhompho Mosethwa, 37, dished up a late lunch of pap and fried eggs for herself.
She calls her two boys, aged 14 and 10, to get their food as she walks out of her smoke-filled shack. The smoke is from the fire she lit in her shack to prepare the meal.
Life has been particularly hard for Mosethwa recently.
She has not brewed sorghum beer - which she has been selling to the mining community for over 15 years. Her regular income has dried up because of the strike.
"It is tough but we have to stand by the miners," she said.
An expression of pity floods Mosethwa's face as she speaks about her living conditions.
"We live like pigs and no one cares. We have no one to complain to because we have been told this place is not even on the town's map, so we are on our own."
The water tap she paid R950 to install in February last year has been dry for two months. Her vegetable garden is withered and dead.
Her sons have not been to school for two weeks because the mine bus has stopped picking them up in the wake of the violence.
"My kids could not be accommodated at the local school because I do not have an identity document," she says.
Though living conditions tell a tale of poverty and deepening inequality, a rock-drill operator, who asked not to be named, revealed the extreme conditions under which miners work.
Working eight-hour shifts for a pitiful salary, the miner said: "I have worked at the Rowland shaft since 2008. We are not allowed to take a break to eat while we are underground. We constantly have to make sure our supervisors do not catch us eating."
He said that though his health has not been threatened by the dust in which he works, some of his colleagues had been neglected by the company when they contracted TB.
"If you are diagnosed with TB, you do not draw a salary during the six months you are off sick taking treatment," he said.