A News Story From Beginning to End

My first instinct is to apologise for this post. As thrilling as it often is to chase a big story as it unfolds and explodes, it’s also rather difficult getting pretty frames (which I’m a sucker for) out of hard news shots (which I’m not). The result is a brand of photography different from what generally appears on this blog, and in my eyes a little less interesting. But still worthwhile, I hope, all the same.

Here, that big story was the minibus taxi riot that yesterday brought down Johannesburg to a near-standstill. Thousands of taxi drivers protested en masse against a proposed public transit network they fear will put them out of business, blockading highways and wreaking city-wide havoc to build momentum.

I can’t be bothered properly recapping the event myself so read on for an excerpt from The Times’ extensive coverage. The paper had seven photographers –myself included– covering the madness across the city. Full source article here.

Protesting drivers beat motorists, stone cars and pull passengers from buses 

TAXI operators have threatened to bring the entire country to a halt with a strike lasting more than a week if their demands are not met.

Bus commuters were beaten and at least one bus driver was shot yesterday before angry, striking taxi drivers and their bosses handed a list of their demands to the ANC and the Gauteng department of transport.

[…]

Earlier, hundreds of taxis caused massive traffic jams, blocking busy intersections and driving at a snail’s pace on the M1 freeway. Armed with sticks and knobkerries, they beat motorists and pulled commuters off buses.

The police fired at them with rubber bullets. There were reports of looting in the CBD.

At the Grayston Drive offramp on the M1, taxi drivers pulled passengers out of a Greyhound bus, beating some with knobkerries. Others threw stones at passing cars. A section of the highway was closed to allow ambulances to attend to injured passengers as other taxi drivers threatened to smash cars with bricks.


An all-lanes roadblock of stationery minibus taxis chokes the M1 highway south to Johannesburg from Pretoria.


Copper chopper overhead.


An angry taxi driver tests the photographer’s bias. He passes, although not without bending a few truths along the way.


The M1 at Corlett Drive.


A story of hands.


A conspiracy of taxis.


The transiting convoy approaches the Johannesburg CBD.


Election posters line the buildings of Braamfontein on the way across the Nelson Mandela Bridge.


Parking lanes, Newtown.


Have a nice day.


Impassioned protestors march to Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown.


The shadows’ complaints.


Signs former boxes.


Megaphone messages as mounted police circle the scene.


The protest continues into the CBD with thousands of taxi drivers marching with escalating tempers to the ANC (African National Congress) headquarters.


Implements of the new and old South Africa.


Guns at the ready.


Taunts and chants.


Tactics.


Hands clap for a taxi dance.


Window in cardboard.


Riot/melee.


The skyward eye.


Backup.


Ever watchful.


Memo for peace.

Author

Austin Andrews is a Vancouver-based photojournalist and occasional filmmaker with a penchant for finding the fantastic in the everyday. Contact him at austin [at] disposablewords [dot] net

4 comments

  • Were I a picture editor, I would publish “At the ready”, “Fire” and “Melee”. Composition means less than movement in news images.

    Fascinating shots though, all.

    Reply
  • You’re right, absolutely, but no matter how many times I hear that I still end up walking away from an event with nice frames that tell nothing of the context or circumstances. I have a lot of difficulty shooting simple depiction.

    Reply

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