Marikana miner’s mom saw it all on TV. This is her story
Her son was on the Marikana koppie when police opened fire. Now her horrific experience has been made into a film
Lethusang Moeketsi’s mother froze in shock when she saw live footage of the Marikana shooting from the living room of the Benoni home where she is employed as a domestic worker.
On that day, Rosa “Mma Moeketsi” Ntshasa, 58, knew only one thing for certain: her son was at the now notorious Marikana koppie at that moment.
The memory makes her emotional.
“I thought everybody was dead,” she told Times Select.
It took her a week to find out her 37-year-old son was alive.
Now their story has been made into a film, called Mma Moeketsi, directed by Reabetswe Moeti. It won Best South African Short Fiction Film at the seventh annual Jozi Film Festival at The Marabi Club on Sunday evening.
Lethusang worked part-time on the Marikana platinum mine during the strike that saw 34 miners killed and 78 others injured.
“I wanted the film to be timeless, to show its legacy,” director Moeti said of her film, which was shot in black and white. “But you will notice that the archive imagery is in colour because the subject matter is still contemporary.”
Although based on the truth, the film has a fictional element to it.
“I wanted licence to interpret the poetry of the pictures.
“I think there is a gap for tragic events to be told with linear storytelling. Even in an event where lots of people are involved, you can’t discount a person or a family. I like to tell stories about the people in the middle, the grey stories, where a person is not necessarily a hero, but the depth of that person still exists.
“My intention for the film was to do a six-part series where I can go into the research of what happened and how it happened.”
Mma Moeketsi said watching the news during that painful week was too traumatic.
“When I saw the footage I lost all strength and hope. I lost the will to live. I didn’t think I would ever see my son alive again.”
She refused to watch TV after that because news channels kept repeating the footage.
“I don’t like the job [mining], but he didn’t go to school. Marikana was the only job he could find …”
Lethusang entered SA in 2006 from Katse, northern Lesotho, to support his family.
She said to this day her son remained traumatised by the events of August 16 2012.
He had been at the top of the Marikana koppie for more than a day.
“Their leaders said that if anything happened they should run because they were unarmed.
“Then the shooting began.
“As the bullets whizzed past their heads someone shouted to play dead and when the firing stopped they all crawled on their bellies down the other side [of the koppie].
“He said after the gunfire, there was silence, nobody spoke, they all just tried to escape.
“He told me he had lost hope where he was hidden at the top of Wonderkop.”
Mma Moeketsi said she when she managed to get hold of her son a week later, she could not believe he had survived.
The tragedy had caused “deaths in our hearts”, she said.
“As a family we did a ritual, slaughtering three cows to give thanks for his life and to honour the lives that were lost.”
Lethusang is now doing piece jobs in the Free State while he waits for employment on the mines.
Mma Moeketsi débuted this year at Zanzibar International Film Festival where Moeti won the Ousmane Sembene Award.
Moeti is currently doing research for her next film, that will be based on the Esidimeni tragedy that left that more 140 psychiatric patients dead.