Image via GovernmentZA's Flickr.

Could Justice Finally Be on the Horizon for Marikana Massacre Families?

New evidence suggests that the police intended to kill all along.

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the Marikana Massacre, when 34 mine-workers were gunned down by police after several days of wage disputes at Lonmin Mine in Rustenburg, North West province. New information was recently uncovered that undermines the police's longstanding claim that they acted in self-defence. If anything, it is a glimmer of hope for the families of the victims that remain left behind in the aftermath of that tragedy.

It was the worst mass civilian killing since the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, where South African protesters were killed for opposing the Apartheid regime. The Marikana Massacre, in contrast, was the tragic consequence of week-long wage disputes and clashes between miners and the South African police.

While media footage appears to show the miners as the victims, police have always argued that they were acting in self defence. Consequently no officers involved have been charged. Instead, the surviving mineworkers face murder charges under the doctrine of common purpose. But unnerving facts have come to light that seem to make the police argument even less likely. This includes the ordering of 4000 rounds of live ammunition and several vans from the mortuary the day before the massacre.

I cannot even begin to unpack my anger and frustration at this terrible irony.

A recent report from the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) shows a reconstruction of the events of that fateful day. It sheds light on how, in what they have since termed "Scene 2" (the site where police fired 295 shots and killed 17 mineworkers), it is evident that not only did the mineworkers not shoot at the police but that the police acted in both a reckless and irresponsible manner. Camera footage taken by police officers themselves and that was subsequently leaked, showed police officers stalking surviving mineworkers after the initial hail of bullets through the grassy plains and proceeding to shoot them dead. One young man was shot twelve times. Twelve times. In the camera footage, one can clearly hear a police boasting unabashedly at having shot the young man down like an animal.

"I have wept because I suddenly realised that even black people, my own people, could kill us just as maliciously as the system of whiteness does and has always done. Let that sink in."

I have watched countless documentaries on the Marikana Massacre and every time I have simply wept. I have wept because in one instance there are men saying "come and see how we live, how we have nothing" and in the next instance, they are taking their last breaths in front of the entire world. I have wept because a grown man, the president of AMCU, the trade union representing the mineworkers, wept because he felt he had failed his men. I have wept because the image of Noki, the spirited man in the green blanket, has refused to dislodge itself from my mind. And lastly, I have wept because I suddenly realised that even black people, my own people, could kill us just as maliciously as the system of whiteness does and has always done. Let that sink in.

The uncovering of this new information is extremely important if justice is ever going to be served for the deceased mineworkers, the surviving mineworkers who now face murder charges and the families left behind and who are still living in abject poverty. The police must be held accountable. Riah Phiyega, then National Police Commissioner, needs to account for the actions of the police under her leadership. The role of the now President Cyril Ramaphosa needs to be interrogated much further than it has been. I frankly don't buy the "I did not sit on the executive board of Lonmin and thus was unaware." Yes, he did not sit on the executive board but this is man has made it his business to understand and involve himself in the inner workings of the companies he's invested in and was the first Secretary General of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and thus worked very closely with the various mining communities. You mean to tell me he had no clue whatsoever as to the emails that were sent back and forth between Lonmin executives and the police days before the massacre? He had not so much as a whiff of what was to come, even if it was only minute? I strongly believe that he must have known to some degree what lay ahead for those mineworkers on that day and he needs to own up to it. I really don't care for the promise which he made at Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's funeral where he said he would go and visit the widows of Marikana along with Julius Malema. He must account for what happened first.

The country's heart continues to bleed six years later. I cannot even begin to imagine the grief of the actual families whose lives have forever changed or the anxiety of the mineworkers who are now being charged with murder—their punishment for having survived the horror.

My highest and perhaps most naive hope, is that if nothing else, that the lives lost, both physically and otherwise, will be atoned for and that the righteous laws of this country will eventually prevail.

(From left to right) Stéphane Bak and Marc Zinga in 'The Mercy of the Jungle.' Photo courtesy of TIFF.

Congolese Actor Stéphane Bak on His Intense Experience Shooting 'The Mercy of the Jungle' In Uganda

We catch up with the actor after the film made its North American premiere at TIFF.

When actor Stéphane Bak first got the script for The Mercy of the Jungle (La Miséricorde de la Jungle), he knew there was one person he had to consult: his father. "My dad did school me about this," he says. While Bak was born and raised in France, his parents had emigrated from what was then Zaire in the 1980s—before the events of the movie, and not exactly in the same area, but close enough to be able to pass on firsthand knowledge of the simmering ethnic tensions that underpin the action.

The story takes place in 1998, just after the outbreak of the Second Congo War—which came hot on the heels of the First Congo War. Two Rwandan soldiers find themselves separated from their company and have to make a harrowing trek through the jungle to link back up with their regiment. Bak plays Private Faustin, the young recruit hunting Hutu rebels to avenge his murdered family, a foil to Marc Zinga's seasoned Sergeant Xavier. As a Congolese militia swarms the area, and it becomes increasingly difficult to tell enemies from friends, the two are forced off the road and into the thick vegetation.

Their journey is physically difficult, but the jungle also nurtures them, providing food, water, and shelter. "The title is very explicit in a way," says Bak. It is the human beings they encounter, from rival soldiers and militiamen to the hostile security forces guarding illegal gold mining operations, who bring sudden danger and violence. The challenges are conveyed as much through the actors' physicality as through the minimal dialogue. As for the strain on his face, Bak says it was all real. "To be honest, it was very difficult," he says of the shoot, which took him 25 days. "I had to learn my accent in two weeks." Prior to commencing, there was training with the Ugandan army for realism. Due to the ongoing conflicts in the DRC, the movie itself was shot in Uganda.

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Brazil Has Made Yoruba an Official Language

The language will also be incorporated into primary and secondary school curriculum in the country, says the Minister of Culture.

Yoruba history and culture has an undeniably strong presence in Brazilian society, due of course, to the Transatlantic slave trade which brought millions of enslaved West Africans to the Americas. Despite the inhumanity they faced, many managed to keep their ancestral culture and traditions alive.

Centuries have passed, and Yoruba influences still continue to thrive in various regions of the country, as many Brazilians maintain a strong relationship with the language and religion. Its influence can be seen through the music, food and spiritual practices of various communities. Last month the Ooni of Ife—the spiritual leader of the Yoruba people—visited the country, where he was met by crowds of Black Brazilians who turned up to pay their respects.

This connection will likely remain strong for future generations, as the language has now become an official foreign language in the country.

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Brazil's Minister of Culture, Dr. Sérgio Sá Leitão, has said that the language will now be incorporated into primary and secondary school curriculum, reports the Nigerian Voice.

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Get into Telefunksoul and Felipe Pomar's Ré_Con Ba$$ EP.

Brazilian producers Felipe Pomar (of TrapFunk & Alivio) and Telefunksoul come through with a dizzyingly energetic EP in the form of Ré_Con Ba$$.

Telefunksoul, who happens to be one of the main promoters of Bahia Bass music, came up with the concept of exploring the rhythms coming out of Recôncavo of Bahia and showing how they can fit into bass music.

Through the 7-track Ré_Con Ba$$ EP, him and Pomar mold and transform the diverse music of Bahia, fusing its rhythms with afrobeat, future house, deep house and much more.

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