During conversations with past members of Black Sash an idea to make a documentary began to form. In May 2014 an initial plan was drawn up and shared with Equal Education who were initially enthusiastic although a collaboration did not materialise. As a first step a small group, Di Oliver, Judy Chalmers and I went to Steytlerville to meet a member of the extended Spogter family, Vumile Spogter and Johannes's sister Oumies.
Oumies showed us Johaness's birth and death certificates. In keeping with the dates on Johannes's grave stone Johannes was registered as fifteen when he died. However as we discovered there is broad agreement that he was twelve years, a learner at Thomas Kasibe Primary School. Cause of death on the death certificate was 'Word ondersoeke' under investigation.
'Oumies Spogter' (image)
'The Death Certificate' (images)
Vumile took us around the town pointing out spots where events unfolded on the evening of 3rd July 1985.
'Vumile shows us around' (images)
Oumies agreed that we should go ahead with our plan to make a movie and Vumile agreed to help. Further visits were made; in December 2014 to outline draft proposals and in January 2015 to confirm proposals and to recruit a team of young people and other supporters including the High School Principal.
'The initial recruits with Vumile Spogter (image)
A more definitive plan incorporating information from Steytlerville was then completed which included proposals to raise funds by means of a fund raising event and a crowd-funding campaign. A Facebook page www.facebook.com/steytlervile was set up and a crowd-funding initiative went live with Thundafund.
The fund-raising event 'Come sip with us' took place in Cape Town on 7th February 2015. Both Oumies Spogter and Vumile Spogter were able to attend and met with many past members of Black Sash.
'Raising funds in Cape Town' (images)
The essential elements of the plan were:
"The aim is to make a documentary directed by young people growing up in Steytlerville as a first step to building a platform for enterprise: digital archive, community website and digital training facility.
The work will explore the death in custody of a 15 yr old, Johannes Spogter, which sparked a Black Sash protest in Cape Town.
Our team of 12-16 yr olds want to explore this history because they think that in creating their own account of the past they will stengthen
their aspirations for the future. Under Investigation will be a touchstone for:
- Past members of the United Democratic Front, Black Sash and all those who risked their freedom for South Africa.
- People who are passionate about the future of rural South Africa.
- Educators who value peer to peer learning and research.
- Entrepreneurs determined to create opportunities for democratic, sustainable development.
- But especially for the people of Steytlerville whose children now want to make their own way, this project has meaning.
Volunteers have started to make this project possible:
Johannes' sister, Oumies, has been consulted.
Making Under Investigation is dependent on engagement with funders to:
- Enable the team to articulate their questions and decide how to explore the history.
- Film conversations with people the team have chosen to interview.
- Edit the film in Steytlerville using the donated computers set up as an edit suite.
- Install the donated computers as part of a digital training facility with internet.
- Set up a community website.
- Show the film in Steytlerville and Cape Town.
Funding will be used to: hire equipment; cover travel costs, and install an internet connection."
The more detailed project plan which was amended as we went along, included provision for a short induction programme involving the local production of a Theatre of learning for young children. 'The detailed project plan'(pdf)
See also 'The making of the movie'
The actual production began in February 2015 by which time the facebook page had some 287 likes and we were well on the way to raising R40,000 the minimum required to complete the work with significant volunteer input for all of the production work.