Reburial of Klaas and Trooi Pienaar

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>>Speech by President Jacob Zuma on Reburial of Klaas and Trooi Pienaar
Welcome and introductory remarks by the acting Premier of the Northern Cape Province, Ms GRIZELDA CJIEKELLA, on the occation of the re-burial of Klass and Trooi Pienaar held on Sunday, 12 AUGUST 2012 AT THE KURUMAN CEMETERY

His Excellency, the President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Jacob Zuma
His Excellency, the Austrian Deputy Ambassador to South Africa, Mr Martin Gartner
His Excellency, Mr Xolisa Mabhongo, South African Ambassador to Austria
Mr Paul Mashatile, Minister of Arts and Culture
Dr Joe Phaahla, Deputy Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture
The Acting MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture, Mr Dawid Rooi
The Executive Mayor of John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality, Mrs S Mosikatsi
The Chairperson of the National Khoi-San Council, Mr Cecil Le Fleur
The Honourable Khoi-San Traditional Healer, Mr P Vaalbooi
The Honourable Khoi-San, Religious Leader, Ouma Katrina Esel
Municipal Councillors and Leaders
The Director-General of the Northern Cape Province, Advocate Justice Bekebeke and officials from the three spheres of government
Members of Faith-Based Organisations
Members of the Media Fraternity
Youth Formations
Members of the Community
Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the People of the Northern Cape and the Provincial Government, I extend my profound gratitude to the First Citizen of our Republic, His Excellency, Mr Jacob Zuma, for availing his goodself at this auspicious and symbolic funeral service of two human beings whose corpses were stolen from our Motherland and whose remains were recently repatriated.

Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to also thank the National Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Paul Mashatile for the foresight of his Department in engineering this event which, in more ways than one, is of national significance.

Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is also fitting to appreciatively acknowledge the descendants of Klaas and Trooi Pienaar, many of whom are in our midst today. I thank every one of you for your assistance and co-operation in facilitating the repatriation of the remains of your forebears to our Motherland.

Allow me to also thank His Excellency, the Austrian Deputy Ambassador to South Africa, Mr Martin Gartner, and his South African counterpart, His Excellency, Mr Xolisa Mabhongo for the key roles they have played in this matter.

Our collective gratitude is also extended to the political principals and officials from all three spheres of government for making this Funeral a reality.

Moreover, and importantly so, I thank the community of Kuruman for being here today.

Mr President, at this point, allow me to quote from the memoirs of one Pregs Govender, activist, author, vociferous advocate of women’s rights and a former Member of Parliament:

“The worst experience had sent me spiralling. Yet it had also deepened the journey within and awakened love from which courage flowed. Memory had surfaced, and beyond it, a glimpse of the truth that none of us are fixed in heroic or despotic moments of history. Life, as it waxes and wanes, always provides opportunities for our humanity to emerge.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, as I look around, and by your very expressions, I can feel our humanity emerging.

Our humanity has truly emerged: In spite of the Pienaar’s being exhumed for dubious “scientific” reasons.

Our humanity has truly emerged: In spite of the Pienaar’s flesh being boiled off their corpses and their skeletal remains being the subject of foreign curiosity in the National History Museum in Vienna, Austria, for more than a hundred years.

Our humanity has truly emerged: The Pienaar’s return to our common Motherland, not as objects of curiosity in a foreign museum, but as human remains to be interred in the earth of Kuruman: Never to depart, never to be violated, and by the Grace of Almighty God, never ever to be forgotten from the our collective memory and our collective psyche as a community and as a nation.

Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have good reason to believe that our humanity will emerge further. As I stand before you, 150 skulls, 80 full skeletons, various hair samples and 1000 metres of film of our forebears dating back more than 100 years are housed in museums in Europe.

In this regard, it is our sincere wish as the people of the Northern Cape that all these remains are brought back home. There is no other way. There can be no other way. And it must be done speedily. Their souls are crying out to rest in the land of their birth. As Government, this is the least we can do - but do it we certainly will.

Mr President, the funeral we are about to witness, is not only a victory for our country or the Continent of Africa: it is indeed a victory for humanity at large. Of this I have no doubt.

And as we approach Heritage Month, we are certain that the repatriation of the remains of our people to their Motherland will be expedited with compassion and dignity.

As we rehumanise, and as our humanity re-emerges, we must always be on the watch that the dubious self-serving motives of people never recur, for today our humanity has really emerged. May it last forever.

I Thank You

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