Photojournalism is a dangerous game when you work in a war zone, and the four blokes who worked for The Star newspaper in Johannesburg in the early 1990s well and truly lived those dangers. Their vivid and confronting photos of the riots in Johannesburg’s rough neighbourhoods during the last days of Apartheid are breathtaking and horrific, especially with the huge risk to personal safety the photographers took to snap these pictures.
Their story is told in the documentary When Under Fire – Shoot Back! Only two of these photographers are still alive, the other two having died on the job. Their horrific stories of taking photos of a machete carrying psycho charging at one of the photographers to a very skinny child being eyed by a hungry vulture really show the awful conditions these men had to work in. While they certainly would have profited from it, the interviews with the two living photographers shows it still takes its toll on them all these years later.
It’s an odd entry into the Audi German Film Festival; it was directed by German filmmaker Marc Wiese, but there is no German being spoken at all. It perfectly captures a notoriously dark time in South Africa’s history, one I’m sure many people would rather forget though the world won’t let them.
Originally published here at milkbarmag.com on Tuesday 26 May 2015