Projects Women Related Happenings

Sanctuary: The 2008 Xenophobic Attacks, Cape Town

Xenophobia: The intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries.

Sanctuary: A refuge, a haven, a retreat in times of trouble.

In 2008 many traumatised Zimbabwean nationals took refuge in a community church in Observatory, Cape Town. During the riots, more than 60 people died and many were left destitute and injured. I spent time getting to know many of these individuals and discussed their experiences as refugees in South Africa.

The church acted as a sanctuary for the families, many of which  were now widowed and with very young children. With thanks to their participation I documented a series of portraits of the mothers who were housed there. The church environment itself created a strange paradox: both a sacred place for communities to come together yet at this time it was for those rejected by their neighbours.

The series was documented on medium format B&W roll film shooting with a twin lens Mamiya C3.


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