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Youth must ‘own’ South African democracy – Lamola

Justice and Constitutional Development Minister, Ronald Lamola, says the current generation of youth can honour the legacy of struggle heroes by taking ownership of South Africa’s hard fought democracy.

He was speaking at the handover and reburial ceremonies of the exhumed remains of political prisoners Bonakele Ngcogolo and Notimba Bozwana in the Eastern Cape on Thursday.

“Our generation needs to own this democracy. This democracy is in our hands… The baton has been passed onto us from this generation who have lost their lives for us to live in a free society.

“Every year, we are outraged by… horrendous gender-based violence crimes. Every year, we are outraged by yet another racist incident. Our heroes and heroines, who fought for our liberation, did not fight for men to kill women. They did not fight for racists to persist with their backward thinking,” he said.

The Minister zeroed in on the scourge of GBV that has gripped the nation, with reports of women being killed at the hands of men dominating the media space over the past few weeks.

“[We] know that, regrettably, women are still not free in our country.

“Whilst we can proclaim that we have laws in place to address this abhorrent conduct, our generation must rise up in our communities, the workplace and in all spheres of society against the rape culture, xenophobia and racism. Women must be freed from the bondages of gender-based violence and femicide,” Lamola said.

Healing apartheid wounds

Turning to the exhumation and reburial programme, the Minister said government has been hard at work ensuring that the remains of struggle icons, who died during the fight against apartheid, are returned back to their families.

“[We] have ensured that of the 130 hanged political prisoners, 47 had their remains exhumed by other parties, and the Missing Persons Task Team, supported by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Unit, has also to date exhumed 74 remains of deceased victims.

“This work enables families to bury their loved ones, and to honour and restore the dignity of heroes and heroines of the liberation struggle. We also want to demonstrate our firm commitment towards healing the wounds inflicted by the apartheid regime,” he said.

The Minister reflected that without the contribution of those who paid the ultimate price for the liberation of South Africa, democracy may not have been achieved.

“We are forever indebted to our liberation struggle stalwarts. We shall continue with efforts to ensure that their memory lives on. Our role is to deepen democracy and constitutionalism to ensure that their deaths were never in vain.

“We must also reach out to those who worked towards entrenching apartheid and are its beneficiaries, not to mete out vengeance, but to build a truly inclusive society and learn from our painful past,” Lamola said.

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