Dying for Gold

Dying for Gold

Today gold miner communities across Southern Africa have nothing to show for the wealth they produced except extreme rural underdevelopment and the world’s worst epidemic of TB and silicosis.

Coerced by colonial laws hundreds of thousands of men left their families and fields to feed the mines hunger for cheap labour. They came from villages in South Africa, Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique, Botswana and Swaziland to dig for gold. South Africa was built on a system of modern slavery whereby the great mining houses of Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, Goldfields and others have knowingly made phenomenal profits at the cost of human lives.

Through the lives of miners and their families from Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa and extensive use of contrasting archive materials DYING FOR GOLD tells how we have arrived at this extraordinary situation.

After more than a century of this practice, communities have been left devastated. Poverty is overwhelming. Men continue to seek work in South Africa as this has become their only choice. Decades of men not being part of their communities has ensured that communities are broken and unsustainable without their meager salaries. When laid off due to exposure to dust and/or TB, miners further burden their families as their health slowly deteriorates. The personal stories from participants across the sub-continent is visceral, intensely personal and devastating.

DYING FOR GOLD comes in the wake of the biggest class action case South Africa has seen. South Africa’s largest gold mining companies have been accused of knowingly exposing miners to harmful dust causing the terminal disease, silicosis and makes them more susceptible to TB. The class action has been settled out of court – which means the real cost of gold will not be known. DYING FOR GOLD exposes the century of deplorable practices by gold mines to ensure that miners and their families are justly compensated. The film also aims to promote discussion on mining – especially profit based harmful practices.

DYING FOR GOLD, a powerful and haunting chronicle of South African mining seen from the particular prism of its health impact on the men who have toiled underground. —Daily Maverick

DYING FOR GOLD is an important, eye-opening documentary which pulls back the curtain and reveals all of the ugly truths about the South African gold mining industry.” —Screen Fervor


Main credits

Meyburgh, Catherine (film producer)
Meyburgh, Catherine (film director)
Meyburgh, Catherine (narrator)
Meyburgh, Catherine (editor of moving image work)
Pakleppa, Richard (film producer)
Pakleppa, Richard (film director)
Pakleppa, Richard (videographer)

Other credits

Edited by Catherine Meyburgh; camera, Richard Pakleppa; original music by Philip Miller.


mining; Africa; South Africa; labor; illness; gold; silicosis; TB; lung disease; black lung; "Dying for Gold"; Icarus Films; occupational health and safety

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