Documentaries to see: Al Jazeera screens Miners Shot Down

By: Thato Magano (@pothaeto)

Having seen the documentary at the First Wednesday Film Club in May this year, sitting in the audience and following the untold stories of the miners and witnessing the complicity of management and the systems of capitalism, I couldn’t help but shed tears for all the men who lost their lives while exercising their democratic right.

Director: Rehad Desai

Witness, Al Jazeera’s flagship documentary strand will premiere Miners Shot Down on Wednesday, 13 August 2014 at 22h00 Central African Time (CAT) and will screen daily until 16 August 2014, the two year anniversary of the Marikana tragedy it investigates.

Described by the director, Rehad Desai, as a ‘factual documentary’, Miners Shot Down is a kaleidoscope of what has arguably been the worst six days in post-apartheid South African history to date.

Through footage sourced from the South African Police Service (SAPS) archives, Lonmin Mines security cameras, field reporters, the currently sitting Marikana Commission  and live witness accounts, the director weaves an indicting narrative of capitalism and the complicit power players in the mining industry of South Africa.

Using the point of view of the Marikana miners, it follows the strike from day one, showing the courageous but isolated fight waged by a group of low-paid workers against the combined forces of the mining company, the African National Congress (ANC) government and their allies in the National Union of Mineworkers. What emerges is collusion at the top, spiraling violence and the country’s first post-apartheid massacre.

In South Africa,  it has won awards from the two leading festivals for documentaries, scooping the Special Choice Award at Encounters South African International Documentary Festival in June and both the Best South African Documentary and Amnesty International Human Rights Awards at Durban International Film Festival in July 2014.

The Durban jury said, “Miners Shot Down emerged as the overall winner of the award for its profoundly moving portrayal of the Marikana miners’ massacre. The human rights abuses so vividly portrayed include the right to life, the right to justice, the right to protection by the police, the right to know, the right to peaceful protest and the right to human dignity. This film is particularly important in South Africa at the present time, given the Farlam Judicial Commission currently investigating the tragedy.”

The ongoing Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the massacre began in October 2012 and recently had its deadline extended again until 30 September 2014.

Having seen the documentary at the First Wednesday Film Club in May this year, sitting in the audience and following the untold stories of the miners and witnessing the complicity of management and the systems of capitalism, I couldn’t help but shed tears for all the men who lost their lives while exercising their democratic right.

The truth of any situation is usually somewhere in the middle, however, after watching this documentary, I’m not so sure. The documentary lays the facts down bare, leaving you hard placed not to commiserate with the men of Marikana who had only wanted to engage directly with their employer to advocate for better living wages and salaries.

Vanguard Magazine, as part of the documentary premiere, has collaborated with Al Jazeera and, who have launched a mobile campaign to have the documentary screened on SABC and etv, in creating an online conversation around the screening. We will be live tweeting from the @MissVanguard account while Al Jazeera will use the @ajenglish & @AJWitness accounts and will tweet from @AmandlaMobi. The official hashtag to join the conversation will be #AJAfrica or #Marikana.

Screening times on Al Jazeera: 13 Aug 22.00 CAT| 14 Aug 14.00 CAT | 15 Aug  03.00 CAT | 16 Aug  08.00 CAT

*This is an updated version of a review we first published on 13 May 2014.


READ: We Are Going To Kill Each Other: The Marikana Story (2013) by Thanduxolo Jika, Sebabatso Mosamo, Leon Sadiki, Athandiwe Saba, Felix Dlangamandla, and Lucas Ledwaba.

READ: Miners Shot Down: The film every South African should see and never forget

READ: Marikana Commission: Mr X’s testimony collapses under cross examination

WATCH: ENCA Marikana coverage 

WATCH: Follow the Marikana Commission online. 

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