Photojournalist Tshepiso Mabula ka Ndongeni recently exhibited a body of work on SA’s deplorable history of mining.
Otata bafel’ emigodhini in isiXhosa means Our fathers died in
This body of work examines the brutal effects of coal mining on human life by questioning the legacy of an oppressed labour force on South African mines.
The work is a deeply emotive look at the stories of 22 men who are part of a
lawsuit Makoti and Others v Sasol Mining (Pty) Ltd. These images are created to look deeply and meaningfully at the human faces behind the numbers of people whose lives are destroyed by mining.
The history of mining in South Africa is filled with stories of a labour force – shut out of the profits its creates – while it is solely responsible for churning out millions of rands while risking its lives.
The images in this body of work look at how these 22 fathers, uncles and brothers, some of whom are now deceased, risked their lives: working for years in the coal mines, without adequate safety gear and then being tossed out without proper compensation after they fell ill because of the coal dust they accumulated while working in the mines.
The men, whose final words have all been “lebitla le nkemetse – the gravesite awaits me now” represent the millions of fathers who have had
violence inflicted on their bodies and have had their dignity
stripped from them by capital. This work reflects on how this
vilece creates a ripple effect which is felt by their families
Tshepiso Mabula ka Ndongeni is a regular contributor to Mukurukuru Media and a 2018 recipient of the Tierney fellowship at the Market Photo Workshop.