Marikana graffiti adorns abandoned Durban church

2015-08-24 18:14
(Jeff Wicks, News24)

(Jeff Wicks, News24)

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Durban - A symbol depicting the iconic 'man in the green blanket', Mgcineni 'Mambush' Noki, felled by police gunfire during the Marikana massacre, has cropped up in the most unlikely of places.

A stencil of Noki, robed in his green blanket with a fist outstretched, now adorns the side of a derelict military chapel on Durban’s beachfront.

The chapel, dulled from its former lustre by time and neglect, is the last remaining piece of military legacy from the Natal Command Military base, demolished to make way for a planned film studio.

Protected as a heritage site, the chapel remains as immovable in stone as the memory of the massacre in which 36 striking platinum miners were killed.

The image of Noki, placed there by persons unknown, has become synonymous with the incident, which garnered international condemnation.

The image is strikingly similar to a wave of Marikana graffiti linked to Tokolos Stencils, an underground social movement.

Unsuccessful efforts were made to contact Tokolos Stencils to ask whether or not the graffiti was part of their campaign.

A target of their ire in recent weeks has been the University of Cape Town, with various parts of the campus daubed with anti-establishment sentiment linked to its relationship with Lonmin.

In Durban, film mogul Anant Singh’s company, Rinaldo Investments, the property arm of his Videovision film production company, struck a deal with the municipality back in 2003 to buy the land for R15m.

Singh is the producer of the much-acclaimed Long walk to Freedom, detailing the life story of the late president Nelson Mandela.

The sale of the land has been the subject of contentious legal challenges, which seemed to have been completely rebuffed by last year.

eThekwini ward councillor Martin Meyer said the chapel was not demolished because of its age, and the emotional value attached to it.

"This is a piece of land that should have been developed a long time ago for the purpose for which it was intended," he said.

"Over and above that, what happened at Marikana seems to have become synonymous with public frustration at the state, so it is no surprise to see these images emerging across the country."

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