Justice ‘should have been prioritised’
Mabuyane regrets that reconciliation took precedence over victims
Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane came out guns blazing when he delivered the Bhisho Massacre memorial lecture on Monday, saying getting justice for the victims of the apartheid and bantustan regimes should have come before pushing for the reconciliation project.
He also weighed in on the planned name changes of East London, the East London Airport, Berlin and King William’s Town, and the removal of colonial and apartheid-era statues and monuments, saying failure to take them down would be “tantamount to idolising the pain they inflicted on us”.
Mabuyane also blasted Clicks management for the advert which portrayed African women’s hair as “dry, damaged, fizzy and dull”, saying there was no place for racist adverts in 2020.
The Clicks advert, which was later withdrawn and for which the chain apologised, saw the EFF embarking on a nationwide antiracism protest on Monday.
Speaking about the 29 victims of the Bhisho Massacre on September 7 1992, the Biobatong Massacre on June 27 1992, the assassination of antapartheid activist Chris Hani on April 10 1993 and the killing of five children in Mthatha five months later, Mabuyane said violence had been a ploy to delay the democratic elections in 1994.
“Action should have been and should be taken against the people who authorised the killing of our people in the Bhisho Massacre, Biobatong Massacre and the killing of five children in Mthatha in 1993. They are still alive.
“We should have placed getting justice for the victims of these crimes above our quest for reconciliation and it is not too late to do so.
“When action is not taken against perpetrators of such atrocities, they tend to get emboldened; they don’t see their wrongs and sadly their actions tend to [be] repeated by other people who see there are no consequences for such acts.
“The Marikana Massacre is one case in point which has unfortunately tainted our democratic dispensation.”
Before delivering the lecture, Mabuyane laid wreaths at the memorial site.
Mabuyane said the ANC-led government had committed itself to improving people’s lives by growing the economy, creating jobs, promoting tourism, reviving agricultural schemes and getting factories up and running again as the best way to honour those who had been killed by former Ciskei homeland leader Oupa Gqozo’s soldiers 28 years ago in Bhisho.
The provincial government was also fixing clinics and hospitals while prioritising schools, especially those in rural areas and townships which had been ignored during the apartheid and bantustan regimes.
He announced that, as part of promoting nation-building and preserving political heritage, State House would soon be renamed Lillian Diedericks State House in honour of the anti-apartheid activist.
This comes as the legislature resolved last week to remove all statues of colonial and apartheid-era leaders.
Buffalo City Metro is also a step closer in renaming East London to KuGompo, East London Airport to King Phalo Airport, Berlin to Ntabozuko and King William’s Town to Qonce.
People have been given until September 21 to comment or object to the proposals.
The DA has started a petition which it hopes will stop the “frivolous name changes ”— with provincial deputy leader Chantel King saying name changes would be a waste of money.
However, Mabuyane disagreed, saying: “The cost of name changes is far outweighed by the significance of the history and heritage we want to restore.
“Of course removing statues of the people who brutalised our people will not solve our social ills but it is the continuation of our healing process.”
Speaking about the Clicks advert saga, Mabuyane warned that if it came to the government choosing between Clicks and the people — it “will stand on the side of the masses”.
However, he condemned the vandalism of the Clicks store in Komani, making a veiled attack on the EFF, saying it had hijacked the advert saga for its own political mileage.
“Corporates should embark on advertisements that unite our people. There is nothing to gain for both government and corporate SA from a racially divided nation.”
SOLEMN OCCASION: Premier Oscar Mabuyane at the Bhisho Massacre garden of remembrance, after he laid wreaths to mark the 28th anniversary of the killing of 29 people by the Ciskei bantustan regime.