Social justice movement amandla.mobi has started an online petition to get the SABC and eTV to air the explosive documentary Miners Shot Down on August 16th, the third anniversary of the Marikana Massacre. But the free-to-air channels have shown little interest in broadcasting the controversial documentary any time soon. PONTSHO PILANE reports.
Miners Shot Down is raw and uncensored depiction of the events that led to the horrifying incident at Marikana three years ago, in which the South African Police Service (SAPS) gunned down 34 miners who had been demanding higher wages from platinum giant Lonmin. It has been described as “a film every South African should see, and never forget”.
A commission of inquiry set up to investigate the circumstances of the shootings has raised questions about the relationship between the state and the mining company, and the way in which the SAPS operates.
“Our free-to-air channel and public broadcaster, eTV and the SABC, have a responsibility to tell the story of our first post-apartheid massacre,” says the petition.
The documentary was shown at selected Ster-Kinekor outlets in the major cities this June, and MultiChoice, South Africa’s largest pay-tv service, aired it in July.
But not everyone has the luxury of MultiChoice. With just over 6.7-million subscribers as of June 2013, it is accessible to only a small proportion of South Africa’s population of 54-million.
Attempts to get the documentary aired on any free-to-air channels have so far been unsuccessful.
Speaking to The Daily Vox, documentary director Rehad Desai said that the SABC took five months to reply to his request to have it aired.
“We initially sent them a request in early January, and then in March, we sent them the DVD,” Desai said.
“I have been making documentaries for 15 years and this is the first time the SABC has taken so long to respond”
eTV declined to show the documentary because it had produced a documentary of its own on the subject, he said.
Last week the documentary went viral, after Desai’s production team accidentally uploaded it to YouTube on a public setting. The team soon realised its error but decided to keep it up for three more days.
The video has since been removed. It is scheduled to air on Al-Jazeera and on another MultiChoice channel later this month.
The documentary will be made available online again on August 14 and will stay up until midnight on August 16. Putting the documentary on YouTube means that there will be a loss in profits and high possibility of piracy, but for Desai this is a small price to pay.
“This documentary is for every South African, especially those who can’t afford DStv,” he said.
“Miners Shot Down is not about making money. It is there to commemorate the lives of those miners and to shed more light about what really happened in Marikana.”
View the trailer below.
– Image via Facebook