Hon­our for those shot dead while peace­fully protest­ing against apartheid pass laws

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - MASEGO PANYANE

THREE sites with deep sig­nif­i­cance to the Sharpeville Mas­sacre that hap­pened 57 years ago in the Vaal town­ship have been de­clared na­tional her­itage sites.

The erst­while apartheid po­lice shot and killed 69 black peo­ple who were peace­fully protest­ing against the apartheid regime’s pass laws that aimed to re­strict the move­ments of black South Africans by forc­ing them to al­ways carry around with them a “dom­pass” in or­der to avoid ar­rest.

About 180 oth­ers were in­jured and the event came to be known as the Sharpeville Mas­sacre.

Ac­cord­ing to a Govern­ment Gazette that was pub­lished on De­cem­ber 30, the three sites that have been de­clared as her­itage sites are the 69 graves of the vic­tims of the mas­sacre at the Phe­lind­aba Ceme­tery, the po­lice sta­tion and the memo­rial gar­dens.

Ex­plain­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of the dec­la­ra­tion of th­ese par­tic­u­lar sites, the gazette reads: “As tes­ti­mony to the bru­tal force used to en­force the racial poli­cies of the apartheid ad­min­is­tra­tion, the Sharpeville po­lice sta­tion, the memo­rial gar­den and the graves of the vic­tims com­mem­o­rate and hon­our those who bravely marched in protest against the forced re­lo­ca­tion and re­stricted move­ments im­posed by the pass laws and lost their lives on 21st March 1960.”

Ac­cord­ing to the PAC‘s sec­re­tary-gen­eral, Nar­ius Moloto, the dec­la­ra­tion of the sites was a step in the right di­rec­tion to­wards the proper doc­u­ment­ing of the coun­try’s strug­gle his­tory.

“We are happy that th­ese sites have been fi­nally de­clared be­cause the record­ing of South Africa’s his­tory shouldn’t be based on what lib­er­a­tion move­ment you be­long to. What mat­ters is that you were part of the lib­er­a­tion of this coun­try,” Moloto said.

Moloto added it was also im­por­tant the events of March 21 1960 be recorded prop­erly, and that th­ese sites be­come more than just re­minders of his­tory.

“In our sub­mis­sions dur­ing the process to get th­ese sites de­clared, we added it is im­por­tant for th­ese sites to cre­ate tourism and rev­enue for the com­mu­nity of Sharpeville. There needs to be sig­nage that shows vis­i­tors where the her­itage sites are lo­cated. Th­ese sites must not be white ele­phants to be vis­ited once a year,” he said.

In a state­ment from the Sed­ibeng District Municipality ex­ec­u­tive mayor’s of­fice it was also re­vealed that the process to have parts of Sharpeville de­clared as world her­itage sites through the United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Un­esco) was cur­rently un­der­way.

The fi­nal out­come of this process will be an­nounced later this year.

A sur­vivor of the mas­sacre Abra­ham Mo­fo­keng, who was 21 years old at the time of the mas­sacre, said he was pleased to hear the sites had been de­clared na­tional her­itage sites.

“Even though it’s been tough liv­ing all th­ese years with­out the ac­knowl­edge­ment of the sac­ri­fices we made, it’s still im­por­tant that this his­tory is kept.

“It helps us know where we come from and where we need to go as a peo­ple,” he said.

Mo­fo­keng said the lack of clo­sure by the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion has also weighed heav­ily on him over the years, but liv­ing in South Africa to­day showed him that some progress had been made.

“We have a long way to go as a coun­try, racism still ex­ists and we’re heav­ily frac­tured along po­lit­i­cal lines, so know­ing where we come from, will re­mind us of where we shouldn’t re­turn to.

“Blood was spilt so that we could be here, and we should never for­get that,” Mo­fo­keng said.

We are happy th­ese sites have been de­clared


HON­OUR THE DEAD: Phe­lind­aba Ceme­tery, where 69 peo­ple killed by apartheid po­lice in Sharpeville in 1960 were buried, has been de­cleared a na­tional her­itage site.

The Sharpeville Memo­rial Gar­dens, above, and the old Sharpeville po­lice sta­tion, right.

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