Witness – Township Cinderellas
Filmed in 2011, Township Cinderellas follows two high school students – born in 1994, the year South Africa became a democracy – as they prepare to graduate.Shafieqah Saban and Zaahiedah Stellenboom are high school students in Manenberg in western South Africa’s Cape Flats. Their hometown was created out of the forced removal of ‘coloured’ families from Cape Town. Unemployment in the Cape Flats runs at 60 per cent and the area is notorious for its high poverty, murder and assault rates. Shafieqah and Zaahiedah are ‘Mandela’s children’ – the year group born in 1994, when South Africa became a democracy. In 2011, they graduated from high school. Their schooling was capped by a week of final examinations and culminated in the ‘Matric Ball’ – a rite of passage for all school graduands. They are the first people in their families to finish school – and of their class in Manenberg only 61 pupils made it this far: more than 200 students dropped out.For both girls, making it this far is a huge achievement. Shafieqah is already the mother of a young child and Zaahiedah comes from a difficult family background and must work to pay her own school fees. But this does not prevent them from dreaming of a future for themselves.Witness follows Shafieqah and Zaahiedah through these final days as they sit their exams and prepare for the dance that marks their transition into adulthood. For both, this is a rare opportunity to wear a dress and full make-up.Their families and teachers are proud of them, but behind the excitement of the evening is fear and uncertainty about what their futures might really hold.