Miners Shot Down (IMDB, website) is possibly the most important social documentary on South Africa in the past 20 years. As per the director's comments after the screening yesterday, this film is unequivocally about the miner's story - and it pulls no punches.
It is actually mind numbing to realise that there is no re-enactment - that the videos; pulled from news organisations, Lonmin, the police and the commission of enquiry - is all real. And it does feature footage and interviews with most of the key players in the story - the miners, the mine bosses, the trade union leaders, the police and journalists. And it is an indictment on the failure of broad based economic transformation - in the words of one of the mining strike leaders - the sons of the miners continue to be relegated to mining, while the sons of the mining bosses continue to be their sons' bosses. It is a cycle of poverty and damnation that has not been addressed where it matters most.
Ultimately, what puzzle me most is, not the question of police brutality - images of Ferguson etc. shows that this seems to be an universal trait when the police are militarised. It is not the question of pressure from Lonmin either - after all, private citizens and corporates have every right to request for political intervention and support of their side of the story. It is rather, how the decision that was made by unnamed persons in the police hierarchy was arrived at. After all, it is clear that the police were instructed to disarm violently - but in the haze of the tear gas and gun smoke, it seems that there is no clear explanation on why and how the decision was arrived at.
The repercussions of the Marikana massacre have already started, and will continue for years to come. Sadly, as the 5 month strike this year has proven, the engagement between miners and the mining bosses continue to the toxic. And while Julius Malema's assertion that Cyril Rapamphosa is a murderer responsible for Marikana is difficult to directly justify - the moral culpability seems too strong to refute.
All in all, it is a great tragedy - for all of us.