Thursday, August 23, 2012

Alleged Defiance of the Unmoved Miners

By Sphe Masondo

Tomorrow a memorial service will be held for more than 46 dead mine workers of Lonmin platinum mine in Rustenburg.

An eyewitnesses account published in the Sunday Times dated  August 19th ,2012 highlights how 3000 miners ,who were defiant and “unmoved” had gathered at the koppie  which they had adopted as a gathering area demanding to see management “we want management to come talk to us ,’ thy demanded. Therefore the question is how did this demand urn into what has been labelled as the “bloodiest day in post –apartheid SA”? Which side to take whose action should be condoned and whose should be condemned?

According to an extract from the Sunday Times, the police had used all available alternatives before using live ammunition, in a section that reads “at 4 pm water cannons were used but this didn’t deter most workers. Then came the tear gas...then the first shots were heard.

On the frontline a large number of miners were walking and crouching along the pathway and moving from the koppie. This may have been a distraction, as a mob of workers, armed with rocks and bricks were seen heading towards the police –crouching low I the bushes like warriors in the middle of a war. It was then that the police opened fire-rubber bullets at first .then several shots of live ammunition were heard.

 Then for barely three minutes, all hell broke loose as what sounded like firecrackers that reverberated all around, with police firing their automatic weapons and pistols. When he dust settled blood soaked bodies lay on the ground”, these were dead mine workers who only wanted management to speak to them.

Looking at these circumstances its beyond obvious that people were robbed of rights and died fighting against an injustice. AFHs new project seeks to educate and promote human rights education in South Africa. It stated in its aims that: “in light of the many social injustices facing South Africa 15 years into our democracy” AFH seeks to embark on an Art and Poetry project whereby we wish to inspire all south Africans with a new realisation of the value and significance to us all of this very important document ‘the South African Bill of Rights.

Therefore believing that there is a way through art and poetry that we can unpack the social ills facing our south African society such as this of Lonmin mine workers who died whilst fighting social and economic problems which were leaving them in poverty through low salaries, deprivation which sets a struggle to the future wellbeing of all those the Bill of rights is meant to protect. South Africa has a young constitutional democracy that needs not only to be protected at all times but also needs to be continuously brought to the attention of all South Africans.

 The following observations illustrate the social, cultural and economic threats to our Bill of Rights.  South Africans comprise a divided society in terms of racial relations, economically between extreme poverty on the one hand and extreme wealth on the other. AFH bridges Human Rights and the Arts advocacy and educational objectives by making visible the ethical values as contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights through the visual arts and the creative articulation as in poetry.

Therefore without choosing sides lets tackle these issues head with all possible avenues if the politicians and society weak, let’s make art and poetry be the platform that we can use to communicate these flaws in order to make sure that our Bill of Rights does not become undermined by those in power.

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