A Documentary Review of Miners Shut Down
This documentary leaves you completely astounded. Throughout the film, it is a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts. As soon as the ‘People That Refused Interviews’ list rolls up at the end of the film, the screen goes blank, with a haunting voice singing in the background leaving your heart cold and angry.
This is something that, without a doubt, every South African – if not every person in the world should see. What makes it particularly effective and memorable is that there is footage for almost every event that occurred and if there isn’t visual footage – there are emails proving what the intentions of the South African Police Service (SAPS) were.
My first thoughts in the first 20 minutes of the film was that 2012 really wasn’t that long ago and like most people I was mostly oblivious to the horrors that took place in my own country. I heard the word ‘strikers’ and mentally switched off because strikes are a common occurrence. Little did I know the degree of injustice and inhumanity that occurred on my doorstep.
The documentary covers the 7 days leading up to the massacre and tries to question why and who was responsible. On the day of the massacre, the film portrayed a sense of anticipation that the police were feeling – as trucks worth of ammunition rolled into Marikana, 400 rounds of it to be exact. What made their intentions very clear for the viewer, was that they had pre-ordered 4 mortuary vans.
One of the most difficult scenes to watch and comprehend was the footage of the massacre itself. I struggled to believe what I was seeing purely because I couldn’t believe that humans would be capable of such atrocities. Then someone shouted ‘cease fire’ and everything went quiet for a seconds that seemed to last forever. Their dead, defenceless bodies filled the hard, unwelcoming ground. There was dust filling the air as the policeman, with no remorse or respect for the people they had just shot for no reason, dragged their limp bodies away.
They seem to move in slow-motion – just another day at the office. Ambulances were not allowed into the area until a whole hour after the shootings. There were bodies found behind rocks where they were obviously hiding from the bullets – clearing posing no threat.
Rehad Desai used simple techniques to draw attention to important moments in the documentary. He did not point any fingers, there was no bias. He simply put the facts and figures into motion for the world to see the horrors that occurred that week.
The Marikana Massacre is now viewed by many people as a symbol of exploitation and brutalisation in South Africa. Over 4000 signatures were signed for a petition to get SABC and eTV to broadcast Miners Shot Down. After receiving the petition, eTV agreed to broadcast the documentary in January 2016. Regardless of your race, religion or political views, this documentary will enable you to see every angle of this tragedy.