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Cala, Eastern Cape
Andile Yawa took his first train journey 36 years ago – to the mines. He was 20. “I didn’t have a blanket, only a blazer, and my mother had bought me a pair of secondhand shoes that were too tight,” he says. “That was the first time I wore shoes.”
Andile worked at Vaal Reefs Mine as a rock driller until he “fell ill in 2008 with phthisis disease” and was medically boarded. As is customary, he asked management if one of his seven sons could replace him.
Instead of his eldest, Luxolo, Andile chose Cebisile, the thirdborn, because he was “stronger” than the others, “patient” and a “perfectionist” – qualities ideal for a rock driller.
Cebisile worked at Vaal Reefs for a few years before moving to Lonmin, where he worked for just under 18 months. He was 25 years old when he was killed at Marikana.