We Are Going to Kill Each Other Today: The Marikana Story Launched at Constitution Hill
The launch of We Are Going to Kill Each Other Today last Friday marked the first anniversary of the massacre at the Marikana mine in the North West province. A moving exhibition of photographs by Leon Sadiki and Felix Dlangamandla graphically depicted the harrowing events of the day in which 34 miners died at the hands of police.
Among the contributors to the book are winners of the 2013 Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Awards, Lucas Ledwaba and Felix Dlangamandla, who were awarded for their coverage of the Marikana strike.
Guest speaker Ferial Haffajee, Editor in Chief of City Press, described the Old Fort venue as perfect as it had the feel of both a mining camp and a prison – which many mines also resemble. She asked for a moment of silence to commemorate those who died a year ago and thanked the journalists who had written this book for bringing us this story. Athandiwe Saba read out the names of the 34 miners who lost their lives on 16 August 2012, leaving behind 147 children.
Haffajee said that none of the promises made to the families of the dead miners in 2012 has been fulfilled, leaving them without hope for their families’ futures. She expressed the hope that civil society would come to the assistance of those families in some way and demonstrate that they have not been forgotten. Haffajee said that Marikana was not our Sharpeville – much worse than Sharpeville, it happened in a democracy where every safeguard existed against such horrors. She feels that Marikana has changed us fundamentally and has resulted in a loss of our innocence.
Haffajee invited the six authors and photographers to share their experiences of the Marikana massacre. All of them had visited families of the deceased all over the country in order to investigate the backgrounds of these miners who had left their loved ones far behind in an effort to provide for them by working on the mines.
Thanduxolo Jika recalled the Makosandi family with ten dependants in the Eastern Cape. Makosandi had lived in a shack at Marikana and Jika couldn’t believe that people live in such appalling conditions on the mines today.
Lucas Ledwaba referred to Sadiki’s photograph of a funeral parlour in Lesotho where the bodies of four miners were kept and said that the pain of one of the widows is the image that has remained with him. He met the miner’s family, where a four year old child was confused by all the anguish. Ledwaba said that, one year later, the wife has not been able to come to terms with the loss of her husband.
Athandiwe Saba went to the Eastern Cape after the massacre and spent time with more than twelve families all over the Transkei. In one home she met a proud, strong man whose 23 year old son had died at Marikana. He was unable to hide his tears as he asked her why she wanted to know about his son.
Sebabatso Mosamo said that the miners were not very comfortable with the presence of a woman among them, but she got to know them and understand their plight. What stood out for her as well was the inhuman conditions in which they live and how they manage to get by with so little.
Leon Sadiki told the gathering that he stayed away from Marikana for a week after the killing as he just had to try and understand what had happened. His strongest recollection was going to Lesotho with Lucas Ledwaba to cover the funerals there.
Felix Dlangamandla recalled how he had never expected what had happened that day. He and Leon Sadiki had managed to get around the police cordon and enter the kraal. At first the police fired rubber bullets, and then he heard sounds “like a popcorn machine”. The burning from the teargas was overwhelming and then he realised there was blood everywhere and people lying motionless on the ground.
A powerful image for all the journalists was that of “the man in the green blanket”, known as Mambush. He had worn this blanket for the two days leading up to the massacre. Athandiwe Saba had attended his funeral in the Eastern Cape. His homestead consisted of three rondavels, and she had slept in his one. She met Mambush’s sisters, cousins and teachers. His principal described him as humble, honest and energetic, which contrasted to the reports about him at Marikana where he was painted as being violent and aggressive. He was a born leader and also just a typical miner.
A lively question-and-answer session followed. Lucas Ledwaba had the last word, saying that the authors all felt after Marikana that they had a duty to record this sad part of our history. “We don’t want our stories to be told by others, and we wanted this to be a reference for future generations.”
- We Are Going To Kill Each Other Today: The Marikana Story by Thanduxolo Jika, Sebabatso Mosamo, Leon Sadiki, Athandiwe Saba, Felix Dlangamandla, Lucas Ledwaba
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