JOHANNESBURG, SEPT. 22 -- The giant Anglo American Corp. announced plans today to begin housing thousands of its black miners with their families near four of its gold mines, the first time in a century of South African mining that large numbers of black workers will be permitted to live with their wives and children.
Theo Pretorius, managing director of Anglo American's gold and uranium mines in Transvaal Province, said the company expected that 24,000 miners would be housed with their families, for a total of more than 150,000 people.
The housing program, pushed by top Anglo American executives for many years, will constitute a major departure from the system of migrant labor long used not only by South African mines but by many factories and construction companies as well.
As migrant laborers, blacks from South Africa's rural areas and neighboring countries work for 11 to 13 months and then return home for four to six weeks to see their families.
"This is the legacy of apartheid," said Bobby Godsell, Anglo American's industrial relations chief, referring to South Africa's system of strict racial segregation.
Anglo American has already purchased the necessary land and contracted with developers to build the communities, either adjacent to the mines or next to existing black townships, according to Pretorius.