November 11th, 2014

Photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa’s Murder Trial Delayed Again

The trial of photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa, who has been charged with the 2013 murder of an alleged sex worker in a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa, has been postponed six months because no judge is available, the Daily Maverick newspaper reports. Mthethwa, who is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery and published his first monograph with Aperture, was arrested in May 2013, and accused of beating and kicking to death Nokuphila Kumalo, 23. A trial scheduled for August 2013 was delayed until April of this year then delayed again until November 10. When Mthethwa appeared in court, however, no judge could be found, so an acting judge set a new trial date of June 1, 2015. Mthethwa remains free on bail.

Outside the courthouse, representatives of  the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce rallied, demanding justice on behalf of the victim, an alleged sex worker. Times Live, a South African news site, reported that Kumalo’s mother was in the courtroom on Monday.

Mthethwa, a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, has been exhibited internationally. His work was shown at the 2005 Venice Biennale and he had a solo show at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2010.  The murder indictment alleges that Mthethwa “attacked [Kumalo] by repeatedly kicking her and stomping her body with booted feet.” The Sunday Times of South Africa reported the prosecution planned to show closed-circuit television footage of Mthethwa’s car at the scene of the murder.

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August 23rd, 2013

Fine-Art Photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa Faces Murder Trial August 26

© Aperture/photo by Zwelethu Mthethwa

© Aperture/photo by Zwelethu Mthethwa

Zwelethu Mthethwa, the South African fine-art photographer, will go on trial on Monday, charged with murdering a woman on a street in a suburb of Cape Town, according to South Africa’s Mail & Guardian. Mthethwa was arrested May 5, accused of beating and kicking Noku­phila Kumalo to death. Die Burger, an Afrikaans-language newspaper, reported in June that a man identified as Mthethwa had been caught on closed circuit television on April 13 getting out of his car and repeatedly hitting Kumalo, then kicking her after she fell to the ground.

Mthethwa has denied the charge. He was released on bail following his arrest.

When contacted by PDN, Mthethwa’s US dealer, Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, would not comment on the case.

In an interview with a South African paper in June, Mark Read, director of the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg, which represents Mthethwa, said that when he spoke to the artist, he “was keen to say that it will all be sorted out.”

A graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology and the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, Mthethwa has widely exhibited his portraits of black residents of South Africa, including migrant workers, miners and cane farmers. His work was included in the 2005 Venice Biennale, and his first monograph was published by Aperture in 2010, the year a solo exhibition of his work was shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. In a 2010 interview with PDN, Mthethwa said that in photographing marginalized South Africans in their homes, “I really wanted to empower the people.”

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October 22nd, 2012

Alfred Kumalo, Chronicler of Apartheid and Mandela’s Career, Dies at 82

© Penguin Books/photo by Alf Kumalo

Photographer Alfred Kumalo, who documented the brutalities of the apartheid regime in South Africa and the career of Nelson Mandela, its first freely elected president, died in Johannesburg on October 21. The cause of death was renal failure, AP reports. He was 82.

The African National Congress,  South Africa’s ruling party, said in a statement: “South Africa has lost a self-taught giant in the media field who still bears the scars of torture and mental scars of continuous detentions by the apartheid security forces.” South African President Jacob Zuma’s statement, reported by AFP, says of Kumalo: “He was a meticulous photographer and his work will live on forever as a monument to the people’s resilience and fortitude in the face of colonial oppression and apartheid.”

Born in Johannesburg, Kumalo, who was known as Alf, began his photography career as a freelancer for Bantu World. He later shot for Drum magazine, the renowned magazine of black life, culture and politics, including the struggle against the apartheid regime. Despite the government’s frequent imprisonment of journalists, he documented student strikes, the Treason Trial of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and others and the Rivonia Trial, in which Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment. A family friend of Mandela’s, Kumalo documented his life at home and in public, including his wedding to Winnie Mandela, his inauguration in 1994 and his years as president, accompanying Mandela on his first trip to America.

In 1990 Kumalo published Mandela: Echoes of an Era and in 2010 published 8115: A Prisoner’s Home, named for the house at 8115 Vilakasi Street in Soweto where Mandela lived from 1946 until his imprisonment, and to which he returned in 1990 after his release.

While in London on assignment for Drum, he interviewed a young prize fighter named Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali), and photographed him winning the Heavyweight Championship in his fight with George Foreman in Kinshasa (in then Zaire) in 1974. His photos were published in The Observer, The New York Times, The Sunday Independent and other publications.

Kumalo was awarded The Order of Ikhamanga in Silver in 2004 for his contribution to creative arts in South Africa. In recent years he opened a photography school in Diepkloof Soweto, offering ninth-month photography courses to train disadvantaged young photographers.

March 7th, 2011

PDN Video Pick: Pieter Hugo’s “Control” Music Video

Photographer Pieter Hugo co-directed this video for South African artist/dj Spoek Mathambo’s “Control,” a very tangy cover of Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control.” The Cape Town-based Hugo,known for his books and exhibitions Nollywood and The Hyena & Other Men, and cinematographer Michael Cleary shot the video in a hostel in Langa, Cape Town, with a cast of local teens including members of the Happy Feet dance troupe.

Watch and see how long it takes to get the song, or the imagery, out of your head.

Fulll credits and cast list can be found on Vimeo.

(Via Wayne Lawrence Photography)