Deputy President David Mabuza has challenged all South Africans, black and white, to fight for the rights of children in townships and villages.
Addressing the national Human Rights Day commemoration at the George Thabe Cricket Sports Ground in Sharpeville, Emfuleni Local Municipality, on Wednesday, the Deputy President recited a poem from Ingrid Jonkers, “The Child”, which was written in the aftermath of the Sharpeville Massacre.
Part of the poem reads: “The child is not dead, the child lifts his fists against his mother who shouts Africa!…The child is not dead, Not at Langa nor at Nyanga, nor at Orlando nor at Sharpeville, nor at the police post at Philippi…”.
The Deputy President said: “In our journey to heal the wounds of the past and rebuild our country, our nation yearns for many more Ingrid Jonkers who will fight – without regard to race – for the rights of children in our townships and villages”.
He said all South Africans, black and white, must be outraged by the death of five year old Viwe Jali who died at a school latrine pit toilet in Mbizana.
“Oliver Tambo was born in Mbizana. What would he say to us who busk in the glory of his struggle, if we still fail to protect our children, years after Grade R learner, Michael Komape, died in a similar undignified manner in 2014,” he said.
The Deputy President further questioned why Peter Mokaba would not turn in his grave when he learns that recently, a five year old girl in grade R, was electrocuted at a school in Limpopo.
He said in November last year, five children died a gruesome death in Soshanguve when an overhead light fell on them.
“What do we say to our innocent children about a police officer who molests children placed in his care, children who have entrusted justice and salvation to him after they were raped? What has gone wrong? Why have we become so numbed to the tragedies that rob our children of their innocence?”
He said today as South Africa remembers the Sharpeville Massacre and the country celebrates Human Rights Day, the nation has many questions to answer to in the quest for renewal and unity.
“We must begin to do things differently. We must again become men and women of moral stamina, courage and conviction. We must be like those who died in Sharpeville.”
He said with rights come responsibilities and all South Africans must do their part with utmost regard for the life of others, especially those that are vulnerable and marginalised. He said this requires that everyone must return to their values that embrace the sanctity of life.
“It requires that we conduct ourselves ethically. That we give the highest quality of service to our people. That we become public servants again. That we use our freedoms and democracy to serve our people selflessly at local, provincial, and national government.
“Our real hope for the renewal, the regeneration of the soul of our nation, rest in our ability to fix our public service and improve the performance of our developmental state,” the Deputy President said.
He said the state must be led by men and women of high moral rectitude, and dedication; people who have made it their mission to selflessly serve and improve the lives of ordinary South Africans; people who have nothing else but the interest of the nation at heart.
Today South Africa is commemorating national Human Rights Day in remembrance of the 69 protesters, who were killed by apartheid security forces during the anti-pass law protest in Sharpeville, Vereeniging.
The incident famously known as the Sharpeville Massacre took place on 21 March 1960 after thousands of anti-apartheid activists from Sharpeville and across the country protested against racial pass laws, which violated the basic human rights of black people.
The 21st of March was declared in the new democratic era as Human Rights Day to honour those who fought for liberation and to celebrate the many rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the Republic.