Marikana women speak of af­ter­math in doc­u­men­tary

The Sunday Independent - - NEWS -

THE tale of the women of Marikana has been re­counted in the doc­u­men­tary film, Strike A Rock.

It’s more than just the story of the widows of the strik­ing mine work­ers shot dead by po­lice, but of an en­tire com­mu­nity whose lives are in tat­ters five years af­ter the min­ing mas­sacre.

Strike A Rock is also about giv­ing a voice to the women, as their cries seem to have been erased from the en­tire nar­ra­tive, in­clud­ing in the broader com­mu­nity of Marikana, says the film’s di­rec­tor, Aliki Sara­gas, who spent three years with the fam­i­lies.

The tale is told through the voices of two lo­cal women, Thumeka Mag­wangqana and Prim­rose Sonti, who have ac­tively formed a sup­port group, Sikhala Sonke, which lob­bies for jus­tice for Marikana dwellers, while also sup­port­ing its widows.

“So the film started really as my mas­ter’s the­sis and it came out as a need to rein­sert the women’s voices in the Marikana mas­sacre dis­course,” says Sara­gas.

“It had seemed like the women’s voices had been erased from the nar­ra­tive, while they were do­ing amaz­ing work po­lit­i­cally and as ac­tivists on the ground to sup­port the mine work­ers, to bring sup­port to the widows and to try to bring jus­tice, while fight­ing against the en­e­mies such as the mine com­pa­nies and the gov­ern­ment.”

Sara­gas be­lieves that this doc­u­men­tary brings forth these voices, along­side a new nar­ra­tive that has never be­fore been high­lighted.

“In his­tory, women’s voices were gen­er­ally side­lined and I did not want that to hap­pen to these voices too. It is about show­ing their fight, their strug­gles and the amaz­ing work that they have been do­ing.

“We also zoom into the cur­rent prob­lems within Marikana and in South Africa in gen­eral.

“It (the film) be­came a real cur­rent story that didn’t just fo­cus on the story of the mas­sacre, but cur­rently on what they (the women) are do­ing, bring­ing forth the need for ac­count­abil­ity.”

The dif­fi­cul­ties that are preva­lent within the com­mu­nity touch on the day-to-day rights that Sara­gas says are to be pro­vided by the state and the min­ing com­pa­nies. What the film helps its au­di­ence to un­der­stand is that the min­ing com­pa­nies have a le­gal obli­ga­tion to de­velop lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. This may come in the form of a so­cial labour plan.

“This is the very plan that al­lowed them (min­ing com­pa­nies) to get their min­ing li­cences in the first place, but now they aren’t ac­tu­ally pro­vid­ing what they are sup­pose to legally.

“Peo­ple are still liv­ing in the same con­di­tions that caused such things as the Marikana strike and the sub­se­quent deaths that we know about,” says Sara­gas.

“When peo­ple re­mem­ber Marikana, they think it started on the 16th of Au­gust 2011, yet it didn’t.

“The cri­sis had been build­ing up be­cause of the labour plans that hadn’t been ad­hered to and peo­ple had been liv­ing in ab­so­lute squalor,” she says.

The cri­sis of chil­dren fall­ing into pit toi­lets, no road in­fra­struc­ture, flood­ing dur­ing rain and no elec­tric­ity and wa­ter were com­mon strug­gles for most min­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

“They (Prim­rose and Thumeka) tell it from the women’s per­spec­tive and really act as a mouth­piece for the na­tion.”

Sara­gas re­minds us that it was not only the widows who were trau­ma­tised, but the whole com­mu­nity. .

“Even if they didn’t lose a di­rect rel­a­tive, from the youngest of chil­dren, they grew up know­ing that Marikana had blood in its soil.

“That is the ac­tual trauma that the en­tire com­mu­nity faces and, on top of that, they still live in con­di­tions that no per­son should be liv­ing in.”

The movie ad­vo­cates for the rights of the women in these com­mu­ni­ties and the hold­ing to ac­count of the min­ing com­pa­nies and the gov­ern­ment for the de­vel­op­ment of these com­mu­ni­ties.

The film will be re­leased at the end of Novem­ber in lo­cal cin­e­mas.


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