A photo of what is called a “die-in” at the Silent Protest held at Wits on August 17 was featured on the front page of the Wits Vuvuzela. As in every newsroom, the right to publish the picture or not was fiercely debated. Two of our journalists, Candice Wagener, who took the photo, and Tebogo Tshwane, who also covered the protest, state their opposing views on the decision.

I am the photographer who shot the front page image that featured on the front page of the Wits Vuvuzela, August 19 edition. My only intention through the shot was to help create awareness of a deeply sensitive and clearly important issue, and not to harm or create any controversy.

I took the photograph from the roof of the Chamber of Mines Building across the Amic Deck, some 500 metres away from the Great Hall where the Silent Protest was taking place. In thinking through how I would cover the silent protest, I knew that I had to take a stylised image that would show the scale of the event and its importance, but also be aware of the sensitive nature of the protest and the needs of the participants.

I thought it would be a good idea to take this photograph from quite a distance in order to show the support for the protest but also to prevent any face or shirt being identified.

“I think of myself as a journalist who chooses the art of photography to bring awareness to the world. Art is a powerful means of expression, but combined with journalism it has the ability to bring awareness to issues that elevate understanding and compassion.” This is a quote, by Renee C. Byer a photojournalist from New York, which I use as a mantra when taking photographs.

The photograph attempts to show the scale of this year’s 10th annual Silent Protest which had a greater attendance compared to previous years. I also aimed to illustrate that rape survivors are not alone. There are still so many survivors of sexual-based violence that are too scared to come forward, and with this photo, I hoped that it would show that the movement against sexual violence is growing and that survivors have a community of safety around them. I never intended to cause harm or offence. I do realise though that this may have happened.

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