Address by His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma at the reburial of the Blacks Civics Organisation (PEBCO) 3 and Congress of South African Students (COSAS) 2, Missionvale Campus Arena, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth
3 Oct 2009
The families of our heroes
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Premier of the Eastern Cape, Ms Noxolo Kiviet
Leadership of the ANC in the province
Executive Mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Ms Nondumiso Maphazi
MECs and councillors present
Comrades and friends
Ladies and gentlemen
We are gathered here today to bid a proper and befitting farewell to five heroes of our struggle for liberation and democracy. The selfless sacrifice of the Pebco 3: Sipho Hashe, Champion Galela, and Qaqawuli Godolozi as well as the Cosas 2: Siphiwo Mthimkhulu and Topsy Madaka will forever be etched in the collective memory of our nation.
As we meet in this solemn official farewell, we have to relive the painful apartheid history of our country. We recall the painful reality that the PEBCO leaders were abducted on 8 May 1985. They were brutally tortured and killed by security police on a farm near Cradock.
The same fate befell the COSAS 2, who disappeared on 14 April 1982 and were similarly mercilessly murdered. Their families, relatives, neighbours and comrades knew nothing of their fate until the Truth and Reconciliation hearings in 1997. And it was only 10 years later in 2007 that their remains were discovered.
Over two years of painstaking research involving international forensic experts, has led to the positive identification of the remains of these outstanding leaders. Like the families of many other missing South Africans, the families of the five compatriots lived with the pain of the disappearance of their loved ones for many years.
Today we are able to fully acknowledge and register our appreciation of the role of these leaders in the struggle for freedom. They lost their lives during the trying and testing times of the 1980s. This was the period of detention, death, imprisonment, banning of organisations and a state of emergency.
Despite those conditions, these leaders decided that their mission was the freedom of their country and their people from apartheid oppression. Generations to come will know the heroism and bravery of these outstanding patriots. They will salute them for their dedication to this country and its people.
They will know how their families were harassed and persecuted by the apartheid state by virtue of being related to these lovers of freedom and justice.
We acknowledge Sipho Hashe, a member of the ANC and Umkhonto we Sizwe, who served time on Robben Island from 1962 until 1973.
At a time when Black Consciousness was gaining popularity among the students of '76 generation, he fought tirelessly to promote the ANC policy of non-racialism and to educate them about the Freedom Charter. When his banning order was lifted he was involved in the formation of the Port Elizabeth Black Civics Organisation and became its General Secretary.
We pay tribute to Twasile Champion Galela who was instrumental in reviving Pebco and became its Vice Secretary General. His commitment to the cause for liberation and his quest for better social conditions found him playing a leading role in the struggle. We salute Qaqawuli Godolozi was appointed President of Pebco in 1980.
This dedicated young leader did not think twice about serving or carrying out important tasks whenever he was delegated. Working together, these three heroes made the Eastern Cape and particularly Port Elizabeth ungovernable. We pay homage to the two young men who also put the needs of their country before their own.
Siphiwo Mthimkhulu was a champion of change and a fearless leader of the South African Student Movement and black consciousness movement. He played a prominent role in the launch of COSAS in 1979 and was instrumental in the setting up of many branches in the Eastern Cape. His hard work and commitment made Siphiwo a target of the security police, which ultimately led to an untimely death in their hands.
Topsy Madaka was another self-sacrificing cadre of the movement, using his resources and skills to the benefit of the struggle. The two youth leaders are no doubt powerful role models for our youth today. Whilst mourning, we must celebrate the heritage of freedom and justice that was bestowed upon us by these heroic South Africans and countless others.
In celebrating this freedom, we remember our unique common identity. We are a nation that knows what it is like to be trapped in one of the most inhumane systems of governance, which dehumanised our people. We celebrate that we are a nation that was able to triumph over hatred and evil, and build a free, democratic and united South Africa.
We chose the path of reconciliation, and decided to put our country first, and work for unity, social cohesion and a better life for all. We were taught by our icon the first President of a free and democratic South Africa, Isithwalandwe Nelson Mandela, that in reconciliation one finds peace, that in forgiveness one finds inner freedom and strength.
In paying tribute to our illustrious heroes, we also celebrate the fact that we are a nation that continues to draw its strength from its history, from its heroes, and from the countless sons and daughters who laid down their lives for freedom, democracy and justice.
Today all of us, black and white, live that dream of freedom in a non-racial, democratic South Africa. The tragedy of the PEBCO 3, COSAS 2 and others places certain responsibilities on the new democratic State. They suffered because there was a brutal apartheid State that had absolute power.
The State had a security apparatus that was beyond control, and a police force that was a law unto itself. The apartheid police force kidnapped, tortured and murdered people at will. That is the horror we emerged from in 1994. It is due to those instructive experiences of the apartheid era, that together as all parties in our country we produced a Constitution that protects South African citizens.
The Constitution requires that the security services of the country must act in accordance with the Constitution and the law, including customary international law and international agreements binding on the Republic. We have a Bill of rights, Chapter nine institutions and an independent judiciary to deepen and strengthen our democracy and protect the rights of citizens.
Today, in a free and democratic South Africa, as government we declare that never again should the state apparatus be used to maltreat and violate the human rights of our people as it happened during the apartheid era. The Bill of Rights provides that all have the right not to be deprived of freedom arbitrarily or without just cause, the right not to be detained without trial, to be free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources, not to be tortured in any way; and not to be treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way.
Our security forces know that their duty is to protect South Africans and all within our borders, and not to torture or harass them. Our police force knows that its duty is to fight crime and help us build safer communities. We must point out that when we call for the police to be allowed to use deadly force, it is only in defence of civilians or to protect their own lives.
Our police force will never be allowed to take away the lives of innocent people. Given the lessons of the past, we also declare our commitment to ensure that our police force is never used to fight political battles, as it happened during the apartheid era. Citizens are not the enemy. The enemy is crime, poverty, homelessness, disease and hunger.
It is significant that having been tortured and having lost their lives in the hands of the apartheid police force; our heroes are today being bid farewell officially and with dignity by the police force of the democratic era. It certainly indicates how far we have come in building a new country with a new common nationhood, values and patriotism.
We pay eternal tribute to these valiant compatriots and gallant fighters for their contribution to creating this type of South Africa which values its people. We shall continue to draw strength from their great works and sacrifices because we know what they stood for.
Working together as South Africans we must roll up our sleeves and ensure the achievement of all the socio-development goals of our country in the memory of our heroes. We must work harder to ensure that we eradicate poverty; we improve education, health, rural development, create decent jobs and develop our rural areas to improve the quality of life of all.
That is what our compatriots lived for, to see a South Africa whose people live in peace and harmony, where children do not go to be bed hungry because there is no food, and where all citizens are safe and secure in their homes and communities.
In memory of the COSAS 2, let us build a prosperous future for our youth, through investing more than ever before in education and skills development, and in providing opportunities for our young people to develop their true potential.
Ladies and gentlemen, in Pietermaritzburg, they bid farewell to Mama Lina Mabhida, wife of stalwart and hero of our struggle, Moses Mabhida. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family.
Her passing on is another reminder of the passing of an era in our struggle. It should make us even more committed to strive for the South Africa that our stalwarts and national heroes worked of all generations worked to achieve.
Ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends, we have waited for 25 to 27 years, to be able to say Sipho Hashe, Qaqawuli Godolozi, Champion Galela, Siphiwo Mthimkhulu and Topsy Madaka, Lalani ngoxolo.
We say so with pride, for theirs was a life well-lived, a life of struggle and a life dedicated to freedom, justice and democracy. It was a life dedicated to making South Africa a better place to live in generations to come. We are finally able to officially bid our heroes goodbye, as a democratic State and as democratic forces in our country.
Kwimindeni yenu, akwehlanga lungehli. Lalani ngenxeba.
Issued by: The Presidency
3 October 2009
Source: The Presidency (http://www.thepresidency.gov.za)
Issued by: The Presidency
3 Oct 2009
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