Through the lens: A look at Marikana’s bleeding heart

2013-08-11 14:00

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Two documentaries peel away the layers that led to the tragedy.

Two new Marikana documentaries are on their way ahead of the first anniversary of the mining strike that left 44 dead. The first of them airs tonight on eNCA.

South Africans have not yet seen the real horror of limbs twitching as 34 miners lay dying in the dust after police used live ammunition to quell a strike at Lonmin mine on August 16 last year.

We have not really seen the families of the dead on either side, nor have most of us watched the police footage in the days leading to the shooting that was shown at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.

Made in two parts – Through the Lens and Seven Days of Night – eNCA’s documentary special focuses on the journalists covering the story and the live-on-air horror as it broke.

In part two it tracks the week leading to the massacre.

While the man in the green blanket became a symbol of the tragedy; the eNCA documentary foregrounds the man in the orange jersey.

His name is Mongezeleli “Bhayi” Ntenetya. After he is shot he tries to sit up and then collapses. His wife Nosipho saw her husband die on TV.

“After he fell, I couldn’t watch any more,” she says. She starts to cry. “I cannot talk about him. I just can’t.”

Producer and director Xoli Moloi visited Ntenetya in the Eastern Cape village of Idutywa.

She told City Press the grieving widow told her she and her husband spoke every night and that she still stares at her phone at the time he used to call.

The documentary pays equal attention to the 10 men who died in the week before the massacre.

Petunia Lepaaku sits in the same chair she was sitting in when she saw a corpse with its face covered on TV and suspected it was her husband.

“He prayed alone that morning,” tells Aisha Fundi, the wife of security guard Hassan Fundi who died when his car was torched by strikers.

Normally her husband would wake her to pray with him.

Another Marikana documentary, Miners Shot Down, is in post-production. It’s a well-funded feature from Rehad Desai’s Uhuru Productions.

He had been preparing to shoot a project on mining and labour that focused on Lonmin when the massacre happened.

It changed his film into “a forensic investigation into the shooting”. Showing never-before-seen footage, it also covers the week leading to the tragedy.

It is, he says, a clear comment on capitalism and politics, foregrounding labour issues and including interviews with Cyril Ramaphosa, mine management and union leaders.

It also draws on photographer Greg Marinovich’s coverage of the scene of the shooting.

“It shows why and how state and capital collusion can lead to a mass shooting,” Desai told City Press.

The documentary will premiere internationally next year.

Newsflash: Families appeal to ConCourt

Family members of the 34 striking miners who were killed by police in Marikana have asked the Constitutional Court to help them find out “how and why our loved ones were killed in the manner in which they were”.

In an affidavit filed by Zameka Nungu, whose husband was killed on August 16 last year, she asks the court to order that the state must fund the legal representation of families at the inquiry into the massacre.

“I want to participate in the commission because I want to know why the police killed my husband,” said Nungu.

“I also want to know why the police who killed my husband have not yet been brought to justice.”

The families, who are being represented by Advocate Dali Mpofu, are appealing a decision of the North Gauteng High Court which dismissed an urgent application for the state to fund their legal representation at the Farlam commission of inquiry.

The widows, mothers and sisters of the late miners say they “simply don’t believe” that their husbands were attempting to attack the police.

“We knew our loved ones as peaceful and loving men.” – Charl du Plessis

» eNCA’s Marikana special screens tonight at 7pm and will be available online at

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