Address by the Premier, Ms Sylvia Lucas at the Unveiling of the Colesberg 4 Monument and Celebration of Reconciliation Day, Kuyasa Township,Colesberg

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Programme Director
Members of the Executive Council
Mayors and Councillors present
Family members of the late Colesberg 4
SANCO and other Civic Organisations present
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to join with the community of Colesberg to commemorate Reconciliation Day that falls on the 16th December but we have chosen to celebrate it today as part of honouring our fallen heroes.

Die 16de Desember het ‘n baie belangrike rol in ons land se geskiedenis en was vir die eerste keer in 1995 herdenk. Ons voormalige President, wat ook die eerste President van ons demokratiese land was, die geliefkoosde Tata Madiba, het opgemerk dat talle ander lande 'n nasionale openbare vakansiedag het, wat hulle wy aan versoening. Hy het destyds gestel dat; “There are few countries which dedicate a national public holiday to reconciliation. An entire national holiday dedicated to reconciliation may seem unwarranted to many outside of South Africa, but the country’s history is unique, and 16 December should be a day for citizens to reflect on how far we have come, as well as on the journey that still lies ahead.” Hierdie dag herinner ons dus daaraan dat ons op ‘n stadium ‘n verdeelde nasie was, wie se mense 'n oorlog teen mekaar gevoer het vir baie dekades.

Ladies and Gentlemen, on this day we thus celebrate that we were able to work together as opposing sides to resolve our challenges and agreed to build peace and usher in a human rights-based democracy founded on the values of unity in diversity. Very few days in our history symbolize division like the 16th of December. It therefore stands to reason that this year we celebrate Reconciliation day under the theme, “Social cohesion, Reconciliation and National Unity.”

Vandag, soos u dit besef is ons ook byeen om 'n stap te neem in die behoud van ons geskiedenis van ons gevalle helde en heldinne en in dieselfde trant by te dra tot nasiebou. Vandag het ons die voorreg om in 'n vrye en nie-seksistiese demokratiese samelewing te bly, maar dit is belangrik dat ons moet onthou dat hierdie Vryheid het nie op ‘n skinkbord gekom. Dames en here, dit het ongelukkig teen ‘n baie hoë prys gekom.

The story of the struggle for Freedom in South Africa is rich and varied. Many stories about our struggle have been told. But even more accounts about the bravery of our gallant fighters still remain untold. Our people were subjected to the most inhumane treatment and most vile of human rights abuses. Despite all these crimes against humanity, great men and women rose with courage and conviction to fight not only an unjust system but to liberate all of us and free us from the shackles of Apartheid.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as part of honouring our heroes and heroines of the liberation struggle, this ANC-led government would like to pay tribute to the Colesberg 4. In doing so, we want to salute them as well all the others who sacrificed their lives; not in vain but for us to enjoy the fruits of democracy and strive towards building a prosperous South Africa.

Allow me to give a brief account of the history of the Colesberg 4. More than 31 years ago on the 2nd July  1985, the local organisations under the banner of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and  the Colesberg Youth Organisation ( C.O.Y.O) took up a campaign against the lack of services which was  enforced by the Apartheid regime.

On this very this day, the South African Defence Force set up camp outside Kuyasa which resulted in clashes with the youth of Colesberg. This eventually led to the police entering the township of Kuyasa and shooting at the youth of Kuyasa who decided to take a stand against the oppression meted out during that time.

Mr. Solani Gcanga was arrested and placed on top of the military vehicle where he was paraded around in the township of Kuyasa whilst he was repeatedly assaulted and a sjambok was placed around his neck. This was in total violation of his human rights, which during those times carried no consideration.

The arrest of Solani Gcanga and the lack of service delivery in Kuyasa Colesberg was a precursor to the events leading to the killing of the Colesberg Four. The youth marched on the township house of a policeman and set his car alight. After this the police raided Kuyasa and opened fire on the youth that were toy-toying resulting in the brutal death of four young people in the prime of their lives. They were Funeka Siyonzana (17) , Mr. Krakra Maciki (17) , Mr. Mongezi Juda (17 ) and Mr. James Marumo (23).

Ladies and Gentleman, numerous other residents were injured and were subsequently charged with public violence. In the wake of these events, over 70 residents in the township were arrested. Many of them were subjected to assault and torture while in police custody. They were bombarded with tear gas whilst they were confined in the limited space in the police cells.

It is therefore important that we never forget and lose sight of where we once were. We need to be the torch bearers of telling our history, good and bad, in order to move this beautiful country of ours forward. Central to our role as government, is to create whole beings. Each time we remind ourselves why there was a prolonged struggle in our land, we come back to the same answer, that every child, every woman and every man in our country, should be given equal opportunity to enjoy a life of dignity.

In paying tribute to these young souls; 23 years after their death they were honoured for their contribution to the fight for freedom and liberation in South Africa. Further to this, during march 2008, the graves of the Colesberg 4 were declared a national monument by the South African Heritage Resource Agency. We will in their memory continue to strive for a South Africa that truly belongs to all who live in it.

Today, we are showing further appreciation by unveiling a monument in honour of the Colesberg 4 for the sacrifices they made in order for this country to be free . This initiative is also to recognise and celebrate our unsung heroes who played a pivotal role in the development of our country.

We are privileged to understand these things now.  We are the beneficiaries of a legacy of ideas that helped us free ourselves and our country. We should therefore not trample on that legacy. If we were to go back to our history books, the 16th of December might have been construed as a day of defeat; this however is not how we perceive it. This was a day that marked the fiercest resistance of that era by black people against colonial oppression.

As we pay homage to that day let us also spare of a though for our own brave warriors the Colesberg 4. Let us continue to honour them and thank them for what they have done, not only for the Community members of Kuyasa but for the entire South Africa.

To the family and close relatives of the Colesberg 4, I want to say that I am glad that on this day and through the working together of all stakeholders, we are able to honour them in such a small but very significant manner. May you find inner peace and be proud of the contributions made by your family members.

Ladies and gentlemen, as South Africans from all walks of life, we have a responsibility to respect and acknowledge the past, celebrate the present and build the future together.

In conclusion ladies and gentlemen, this is the start of a reconciliation programme that tries to shape a better future from a divided past. It is by building, brick by brick, the Northern Cape of tomorrow that truly belongs to everyone. These are the bricks with which we build the most powerful parts of our heritage. They are the people and ideas that made us who we are and that will help us move this beautiful Province of ours forward.

I thank you

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