SA to mark Rights Day differently
SOUTH Africa will celebrate Human Rights Day differently due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
At least 150 people have been affected by the virus which has prompted the government to urge people and political parties to avoid holding public events in their bid to contain its further spread.
Now, political parties in the country – including the PAC which led the anti-pass march on March 21, 1960, in which 69 people were killed 60 years ago – have heeded President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to suspend the commemoration of the massacre due to the outbreak of the virus.
The Sharpeville Massacre – now known as Human Rights Day – was due to be celebrated by various political parties at various venues in Sharpeville tomorrow.
The Gauteng provincial government had planned its event at the Cricket Oval Stadium next to George Thabe, while the EFF and PAC had planned to hold a separate commemoration at the nearby Dlomo Dam.
Ramaphosa was due to address a national government event in Colesberg in the Northern Cape tomorrow.
But following his address to the nation on Sunday, all parties have agreed to suspend their services despite their individual attachment to the day.
Over the years – especially during apartheid – the PAC dubbed March 21 as Sharpeville Day in remembrance of the day their Vaal party leader, Nyakane Tsolo, led a group of men and women to the Sharpeville police station to hand themselves over for arrest in protest against the carrying of the denigrating dompasses.
Instead of arresting the multitude of protesters, police opened fire and killed 69 and injured scores.
Tomorrow, however, Sharpeville residents will for the first time not publicly honour this historical event.
Eight years ago – due to their attachment to March 21 – residents in the area violently protested against then president Jacob Zuma and former Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane hosting the 2012 Human Rights Day celebrations in Soweto.
“Why Soweto?” was written in large graffiti on the wall at the entrance to the Sharpeville Human Rights Precinct.
More than 2 000 Sharpeville residents took to the streets that day, in a protest that turned violent following the government’s decision to celebrate Human Rights Day in Kliptown, Soweto, and not in Sharpeville as they had expected.
However, villagers in the Eastern Cape in Xolobeni have decided to honour Human Rights Day in their village to spread the message to curb the coronavirus.
Xolobeni community spokesperson, Nonhle Mbuthuma, said the Amadiba Crisis Committee – which also accepted Ramaphosa’s request – would instead go from village to village from tomorrow, for several weeks, to inform nearby villagers on how to protect themselves against coronavirus.