Jesuits screen miners’ strike documentary

The Jesuit Institute in South Africa will be hosting a special screening of the multi-award winning documentary Miners Shot Down at St Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Orlando West, Soweto, on 27 April 2015. The documentary follows the events leading up to the Marikana massacre on 16 August 2012 and includes striking footage from numerous sources, including the South African Police Services, Lonmin security and Al Jezeera. It also presents interviews with key players in the events of Marikana, including deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, strike leaders, photojournalists and lawyers representing the miners’ families.

In August 2012, mineworkers in one of South Africa’s biggest platinum mines began a wildcat strike for better wages. Six days later, 34 of them were killed and many more were injured, when the police used live ammunition to suppress the strike. Considering the events from the point of view of the Marikana miners, Miners Shot Down follows the strike from day one to its tragic conclusion.

On 11 March, around 60 members of the public attended a screening of the documentary, organised by the Jesuit Institute. They were joined by Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron, Archbishop Emeritus of Pretoria George Daniel, members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference and representatives of the mining and banking fraternity and the National Prosecuting Authority.  Also present at this screening were the documentary’s producer and script-writer, Anita Khana, and its director, Rehad Desai. James Nichol, a solicitor from the United Kingdom who represented some of the families of the miners who were shot at Marikana, also attended the screening and joined in the discussion afterwards, as did Mzoxolo Magidiwana, a miner who was present during the strike in 2012 and was himself shot by the police.


Miners Shot Down - South Africa

Fr Russell Pollitt SJ, the Director of the Jesuit Institute, described the discussion which followed the first screening of Miners Shot Down as “passionate and memorable”. He said the breadth of topics discussed was impressive and included the economic situation of miners in South Africa (a Region of the British Province), the accountability of the government and police, the possible outcome of the Marikana Commission and the role of the media in the growth and development of South Africa as a democracy.

With the report from the Marikana Commission due to be completed and submitted to the President of South Africa before the end of March, the Jesuit Institute regards the screening of the documentary and the subsequent discussion as very important. “Integral to Ignatian spirituality is a faith that does justice,” explained Fr Pollitt. “And an essential part of the mission of the Society of Jesus is to serve the Christian faith and to promote justice ... The Institute believes responsible Christians and citizens of South Africa need to be conscious of, discuss, raise awareness about, and work towards resolving issues that affect our society. These challenges include ensuring that reasonable wage levels are paid to workers that enable families to survive, the police force and government are held accountable to citizens and that multi-national corporations are held socially responsible.”

The screening of Miners Shot Down will take place at St Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Orlando West, Soweto, on 27 April 2015 at 3pm. For more information: contact Fr Russell Pollitt SJ -    

Photo right: Jesuits Grant Tungay SJ and David Holdcroft SJ discuss the documentary with Fr Grant Emmanuel and Justice Edwin Cameron after the screening.