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International Emmy for Marikana film

The documentary film "Miners Shot Down" about the 2012 Marikana killings, which left 34 striking miners dead, has won an International Emmy award. Two broadcasters in South Africa are refusing to air the film.

August 16, 2012 is a day many South Africans will never forget. It was the day on which police fired a hail of bullets at striking miners who were demanding higher pay. 34 miners were killed and scores injured.

Filmmaker Rehad Desai captured the clashes on camera and incorporated the scenes in a moving film which has now won the best documentary honor at the International Emmy Awards in New York.

However, two leading South African broadcasters, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and e.tv have refused to air the film.

This has angered many South Africans and has refuelled accusations that the government ordered the police to shoot the miners. Some people believe the refusal to air "Miners Shot Down" is also intended to protect Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who many allege gave the order that led to the shooting.

These allegations persist despite the fact that Ramaphosa was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Commission of Inquiry which investigated the killings.

Waiting for the true story

For South Africans like 32-year old Sandile Nkosi, the refusal to air the documentary has deprived her and her fellow citizens of their right to know what really happened.

USA New York Emmy Award Rehad Desai mit Lala Tuku und Jonathan Kovel

Director Rehad Desai (left) during the International Emmy Awards in New York, November 23, 2015

She says the stations' chiefs should be dragged to the ombudsman to explain their actions. "People should have a voice anywhere they are and have access to information that is vital for their self-worth and self-determination," she told DW.

Media commentator and freelance writer Ndumiso Mlilo also criticizes the action of the two broadcasters.

"The whole idea was to hide the truth from the people so they won't know what transpired, but of course the people know that the state agencies like the police were on the wrong side." Any attempt to muzzle such documentaries usually rebounds and people eventually do get to know the truth, he added.

Three years after the Marikana tragedy, the families of those who were killed have yet to receive financial compensation. Surviving miners who took part in the strike say, whether the documentary is aired locally or not, the fight for better wages is a battle they will fight until they win.

Director Rehad Desai dedicated the International Emmy award to victims of the massacre and their families "and to the continuing fight for justice and equality in South Africa."

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