The collaborative exhibition by artists Layziehound and Siphamandla Ex is comprised of ten paintings, one of which is a collaborative piece. Layziehound’s abstract works address the reality that in South Africa – justice is not for all, but rather for those who can afford it, highlighting the manner in which truth becomes obscured by those who claim to be ignorant – including the citizens who continue to support an unjust regime. Siphamandla Ex’s portraits depict the faces who have access to the truth, and those independent law firms and state representatives who act against state interests. 

The exhibition serves as a potent form of social activism in response to, and against the South African (in) justice system, who continues to fail its citizens, acting instead, as co-conspirators to lawlessness and social injustice. The as yet unsolved murder case of ex-Orlando Pirates soccer captain Senzo Meyiwa stands as a testament to this shameful reality, and also calls to question our own position as ordinary citizens – as perpetrators, witnesses and victims of criminal violence and state corruption. If there is no justice for Senzo, where does that leave the countless number of ordinary citizens whose lives are taken each day? Eight years on, we ought to question the role and morality of our ‘law keepers’ – as both collectors of forensic evidence and (gate) keepers of knowledge. 

If the law sheds light, why has justice not prevailed? This particular brand of hypocrisy, asserted under the rule of corrupt businessmen and political traitors has bred a society which has become equally and increasingly complacent about its own rights and responsibilities, proving themselves to be just as sellable as the judiciary who claims to hold our best interests at heart. In the case of slain soccer star Senzo Meyiwa, his family, friends, fans and community members have become equally complicit in the suppression of truth and justice, alongside those police officials who have failed to do their duty in bringing closure to the murder case of a true local celebrity. This is evidence of the callousness with which we treat those who have served and entertained us, ultimately offering up their lives as sacrifices to be devoured by fire, concealing evidence in ashes that are left to dissipate in the winds of time. What is the role of media censorship alongside multi-million dollar Netflix deals that serve only to distract from the real issue, while keeping us entertained by our own as yet unrealised sense of collective pain and political disenfranchisement. 

As a public, are we not guilty of detaching ourselves from our own story? Senzo’s story is our story, a ‘kasi’ story, where our collective complacency renders us equally complicit in the cover-up of heinous crimes. Here, citizens both ordinary and official have become cast members in the theatre of crime and corruption, leaving responsibility in the hands of lawmakers who have proven themselves to operate under the premise of greed and lawlessness. How long will we continue to be entertained by our own moral collapse and the sale of our dignity at the cost of social justice? Artists Layziehound and Ex have taken the position of observers and concerned citizens, to assert our role and responsibilities in actively defending the lives and stories of our people, we who are the custodians of culture and the extension of our ancestors. UMHLATSHELO WOKUSHISWA UDLIWE NGUMLILO (a sacrifice to be burnt by fire) functions as a metaphor for Mavalingozi (the sacrifice, usually a goat, which is burnt after its peculiar organs have been harvested for the purpose of repairing or renewing the body that’s been partly destroyed. This sacrifice is also a plea, insinuating a polite protest to the ancestors, questioning their allowance of such an incident, whilst pleading for those who remain to never meet such a gruesome destiny. No death, other than that of natural causes is culturally acceptable. 

This work serves as a death ritual for Senzo Meyiwa whose life and death is an extension of our own experience, and whose unsolved murder case continues to generate financial revenue for all involved… but at whose expense? His flesh continues to be devoured, although his bones have been buried. But how will his soul find rest? There is an isiZulu idiom which states

Ilanga lokhanya ubusukubufane nemini’ (the sun will shine in the night, and the night shall be as bright as day).

Until such time, this work will hold the candle until justice is served. 

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