Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

South Africa: From Soweto Uprising to Bare Asses - a Continuing Struggle to Be Heard

analysis

It is always unsettling to the middle classes to be confronted with images that show the naked truth about the indignity of poverty. Statistics and relayed news from a world far removed from us is the preferred manner of dealing with the poverty crisis. Having it displayed starkly on the front pages of newspapers is another matter altogether. It penetrates our comfort zones and makes us squirm.

The image of a woman standing on a roadside bare bottomed with her pants around her knees is a shock to the system. But how else would we know that this woman, Nomathemba Hlongwane, a South African like us, is subjected to inexcusable indignity? It seems to take desperate measures to make those in power pay attention.

Had the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) not embarked on the strike in the platinum sector, which ground operations at three giant mining companies Lonmin, Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum to a halt, would South African society have paid any heed to the meagre wages and appalling living conditions of mineworkers? Even with the strike having stretched for close to six months, leaving workers and their families without an income...

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