The safety of actors on set should be addressed urgently, a call for for better and safer working conditions in the arts industry was sparked by the death of actor Odwa Shweni during a movie rehearsal in KwaZulu-Natal last Thursday. By Nivashi Nair
"The untimely death of Mr Shweni raises many questions about the safety procedures during filming and rehearsals, and this is a matter that should be looked into with all urgency," committee chairperson Xoliswa Tom said in a statement.
Schweni fell to his death when he lost his footing during a fight scene at Sterkspruit Waterfall in Drakensberg.
As tributes poured in on social media, the South African entertainment industry began questioning their safety at work.
Entertainment commentator Phil Mphela told TimesLive that without a regulated industry, Shweni's family had no real recourse.
"They have no one to complain to. All they can do is go for a personal lawsuit," he said.
Mphela said that in normal circumstances a location scout, stunt coordinator and medical personnel would be involved on a movie set.
"A location scout would get permission, see the location and do all the paperwork. On the day of the shooting, there has to be a stunt coordinator and a medical personnel on set. None of that happened on this set."
The film's producer Gillian Schutte wasn't immediately available for comment.
She was quoted as saying that she couldn't comment on the death.
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"His daughter came home and the first thing she said was, 'I can't wait for daddy to do my hair.'," said Andrea.
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"It is inappropriate for us to comment further until the investigations into the circumstances are complete. The producer and director, Sipho Singiswa, was travelling back from KZN with the deceased's family and was is not available for comment," she told the Daily News.
Mphela said actors needed to unionise.
"We need a strong union. Nurses have unions. Miners have unions. Performers in the industry at large need a union. Once we have a union, we can talk about legislation."
He said famous performers in the industry should stop being silent on social issues that affect actors.
"Their star power can ignite something. What I got as Phil is my name to start the conversation. I will support whatever conversation there is to go forward. It is unfortunate that it took a death to spark something but one is optimistic that this time we can actually do something about it."
Actor falls to his death in Drakensberg during fighting scene
"Neither actor nor crew should ever be put in a dangerous situation for the sake of a film shoot. Odwa Shweni should not have fallen to his death in a film set. A lot more questions must be asked. Very serious questions.
"I did not know Odwa Shweni. I am mad as hell that he died on a film set while being made to shoot a clearly dangerous stunt. His producers have very serious explaining to do. On set safety is disregarded far too easily in our industry. #RIPOdwaShweni, " she posted on social media.