26 February 2014
On Wednesday afternoon a special Press Screening of Miners Shot Down was held, which was attended by some of the most insightful and onside journalists, writers, TV producers and art critics around. In their numbers were Leon van Nierop and Samantha Hargreaves, both of whom were emotionally disturbed by the film, and Barry Ronge, who was so upset that he had to leave the cinema immediately after the film credits started rolling. It was very hard to hold it together seeing these people and numerous other so tearful, so angry. I had to keep my interactions with them and others short, for fear of openly crying myself.
Barry managed to get a few words out, “this is a movie, a real movie and such a powerful story”. It was very affirming to hear such words from our leading film critic. Academic and social commentators Patrick Bond and Ben Cashdan, were similarly charged up. Iain Benson, a Canadian lawyer, writer and teacher, whom I had never met before, immediately offered support in any way that he could. SABC commissioning editors were willing to champion the film in the corridors of that troubled institution and Chris Nicklin of Sabido productions wanted to do the same at ETV and ENCA. A young City Press journalist insisted that the film is going to get a full page spread.
This story has touched a raw nerve and I now remain more convinced than ever before that this film can create serious impact. It can greatly assist to ensure justice is served, which will have to mean that the authors of these killings are held accountable. It will spur on social justice and political activism.
Collectively we have a powerful group of people lining up behind this film and every individual can do something small. Our combined efforts will mean we can do something big. That something big is holding the line, ensuring that this collusion between big corporations, the government and our state, to massacre ordinary workers in order to secure profits, is never allowed to happen again.
It’s no easy battle, but if we stay the course we can win.
We have to win, because people like Makhanya remain in custody, are being refused bail, and interrogated by the National Intelligence Agency. He has no option but to fight on at great personal cost, because he and the 100, 000 behind him, are engaged in the most protracted and political strike the new South Africa has witnessed to date. This is a strike to live their lives with dignity and a strike to allow them to escape the poverty trap. Now NUMSA wants to assist and bring a high court action to have him released, as people are no longer sitting back resigning themselves to this quagmire we find ourselves in as a country.
Bigger strikes and indeed bigger political battles lay ahead in the coming months and years and we need to lay down the groundwork for this contestation in whatever we can. I can go on, but I feel like I am getting a bit preachy, so good night Makhanya and Jacob good night my fellow fighters.
Return to Miners Shot Down website.