Moments to death: Artwork marking 10th anniversary of Marikana massacre back on show

STRIKING memorial to the Marikana miners killed 10 years ago.

STRIKING memorial to the Marikana miners killed 10 years ago.

Published Aug 15, 2022


Cape Town - “Senzenina”, an art installation by South African artist and activist Haroon Gunn-Salie to mark the 10-year commemoration of the Marikana massacre, shows images of the striking miners moments before police fired on them.

On August 16, police shot and killed 34 striking miners at the Lonmin platinum mine at Marikana, Rustenburg, in the North West province.

Gunn-Salie was approached by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI), which represent the Marikana victims, survivors and dependants, to exhibit the mixed media art installation at Constitution Hill.

Located at Number Four Prison, “Senzenina” features 17 life-sized headless and handless black resin figures resembling the miners moments before being struck down by police fire. The images were obtained by police footage.

“The figures are rendered identity-less; it's an indignity, which is what this massacre represents. So putting the sculptures as headless and handless presents ghosts. When you’re talking about such deep inhumanity, how do you go about putting faces to something that is so violent,” Gunn-Salie said.

The installation will run until October 31, and forms part of a 10-year commemoration event organised at Constitution Hill in partnership with Socio-economic Rights Institute.

“Senzenina”, or ‘What have we done?’, is an anti-apartheid protest song mostly read at funerals and memorials. The miners had sung the song right before disassembling, Gunn-Salie said.

“The fact that the workers sang that right before (dispersing) peacefully and getting mowed down in a rain of 4 000 rounds of ammunition, they were pre-empting their own funeral somehow. They knew what was coming and the actual title predated the project, it had to be that.

“I had to take it to that level of acknowledgement of funerals, of grieving, of mourning.”

Gunn-Salie was able to present the artwork to the widows last Thursday.

“Marikana was the worst massacre of its kind under our democratic order. Now, 10 years on the families of the 44 men who died on that fateful day are still searching for the truth of what exactly happened to them.

“This exhibition ensures we do not forget and hold those responsible to account, so that the families know the truth and are able to heal and find closure,” Constitution Hill chief executive Dawn Robertson said.

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