MK hero’s family threatens to interdict Kalushi director’s film on Silverton Siege. Grethe Kemp reports
Cameras haven’t even begun rolling on Silverton Siege and already there’s a threat to stop the film.
The politically charged hostage thriller is the new project from acclaimed Kalushi director, Mandla Dube, who plans to retell the drama of January 25 1980 when three members of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto weSizwe - Stephen Mafoko, Humphrey Makhubo and Wilfred Madela - held 25 people hostage in a Volkskas Bank in Silverton.
But some members of Mafoko’s family are threatening to file an interdict if Dube goes ahead with the film.
They claim it is “insensitive” to create a movie about the trio for the sake of entertainment.
Roni Modimola, spokesperson for some of the Mafoko family, told City Press: “We are not interested in the bravura splashiness that this movie wants to create ... For the Mafoko family it was not ‘highly entertaining circumstances’ under which one of their beloved lost his life.”
Modimola says that they are also unhappy that Mafoko’s daughter, Nosi Mafoko, has been the only one to consult with Dube and that she has not properly consulted with the family on Stephen’s legacy.
Dube met Nosi, who only found out she is Stephen’s daughter in 2012, during a reading of the film’s script at The Market theatre.
She claims she was only told about her father because the Mafoko family felt guilty about receiving money from the ANC that should have gone to her.
“The funds legally due to me were instead shared between my father’s siblings and some used the funds to make house renovations. I was disappointed that my father’s siblings, as elders, could not face me with such a matter instead they’d sent Roni. Well, I took it they felt embarrassed and guilty.
"I told Roni to tell them that I did not approach the family for anything other than to meet and know my bloodline since it was kept a secret from me for so long. But I sensed that the Mafokos would have preferred me to stay at arm’s length.”
Nosi says she was unhappy to see that her father did not even have a tombstone.
“In the cemetery, the Silverton Trio are buried next to each other. To my surprise, my father was the only one with no tombstone. When I did my enquiries, it was confirmed that the ANC assisted financially with the erection of the tombstones and the Mafoko family happily took the funds but did not erect a tombstone.
"I took the initiative to personally erect one for my father. That’s when the true colours of the Mafoko family surfaced.”
Modimola denies her claims, saying the issue of money was raised when some ANC members visited the family with a SABC crew who asked about the plans for the money.
“There hadn’t been any talk of money with the Mafoko family and, to this day, no money ... but we don’t want it to seem as if money is all it’s about ... Stephen Mafoko’s legacy is far more important than that.”
He adds the ANC to the list of those the family is upset with.
“The ANC has not given proper recognition to the Silverton Trio. Post-1994, there’s also been no proper recognition of the Mafoko family. Our impression is that the Silverton story is one the ANC revisits when it’s politically convenient. Even the memorial site for the trio in Silverton is a crude representation of what they stood for. It looks very makeshift Z like they knocked a few metal pieces together.”
The sculpture he refers to was created by celebrated activist, artist, writer and academic, Pitika Ntuli.
But the bulk of the family’s complaint is that Nosi has “shut them off from any participation in her father’s nationally important legacy.”
Nosi dismisses their claims with contempt: “What effort did the Mafoko family make to uphold the legacy of Stephen Mafoko and the Silverton Trio when the identity of my father was still kept a secret from me? In three decades of my life, there was no foundation, no movie, no documentary, no community project ... nothing!”
Dube says the film will go ahead and he wants nothing to do with the family war as there are more characters in the film other than Mafoko.
“We are in the process of engaging with the other family members through Nosi as she has set up the Silverton Trio Foundation.”