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South Africa: Aurora Mine Controversy

Martin Plaut investigates alleged shortcomings at two gold mines in South Africa, run by a politically well-connected company.

In South Africa a mining company whose owners include the grandson of Nelson Mandela and the nephew of President Jacob Zuma has left thousands of its employees without work and, they claim, without pay.

Back in 2009 the company, Aurora Empowerment Systems, bid R605 million (£55 million) to take over two gold mines on the outskirts of Johannesburg, despite having no experience in mining industry. Aurora promised steady jobs, housing and bursaries for miners' children.

The reality has been poverty, despair and even suicide, and mining unions claim the company still owes workers around R12 million in unpaid wages (£1.1 million). Aurora denies this, and says they have paid 80 per cent of the outstanding salaries.

Martin Plaut travels to South Africa and sees first hand the personal despair of the affected mine workers, and learns how the Aurora debacle has created a schism between the ruling ANC party and the working-class black South African voters, who feel the country's political elite no longer care about their plight.

Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith.

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30 minutes


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