Apartheid

South Africa lies at the southernmost tip of Africa, with a surface area of 1 219 090 square kilometres. The population is estimated to be about 49 million people, with just over two million more women than men (25 million and 23.4 million respectively) (The Presidency, 2008). As the first democratic elections were only held in 1994, South Africa is one of the youngest African states.

The recent unearthing of remains buried in the Avalon Cemetery has once again focussed attention on South Africa’s grim and violent past.  For many families whose loved ones went missing during the Apartheid era, the unearthing of such remains is a critical step towards ending their long search for answers.

The barren farm of Platfontein is home to thousands of San - former soldiers in the South African army - and their families, who have been abandoned by those they fought for and against.

San community fighting for survival

In August 2012, mineworkers in one of South Africa’s biggest platinum mines began a wildcat strike for better wages. Six days later the police used live ammunition to brutally suppress the strike, killing 34 and injuring many more. Using the point of view of the Marikana miners, Miners Shot Down follows the strike from day one, showing the courageous but isolated fight waged by a group of low-paid workers against the combined forces of the mining company Lonmin, the ANC government and their allies in the National Union of Mineworkers.

Time, it appears, may both heal wounds and erase memory. An example is the argument made by Tony Leon, the former leader of South Africa’s Democratic Alliance, that despite the brutality of its system, the apartheid political elite practised greater internal accountability than we see today.

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