Human Rights Day belongs to all: ANC

2012-03-20 14:07

The ANC has sought to dispel the notion that Human Rights Day tomorrow is mainly about commemorating the Sharpeville massacre.

“South Africans must accept that Sharpeville is a shared history,” ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza said in Johannesburg today. “South Africans lost fellow South Africans.”

The day was previously known as Sharpeville Day to commemorate the killing of 69 black protesters by the security police in 1960.

Khoza said Human Rights Day was a national day commemorated across the country. “It is a lesson to all South Africans that what happened (in Sharpeville) should not happen today.”

Asked about the protests in Sharpeville because the main celebrations were being held in Soweto, he said service delivery protests had become a common feature in South Africa.

“We know people are impatient with the pace of service delivery but government is constrained.”

Khoza said that although President Jacob Zuma would celebrate the day in Soweto, Gauteng would celebrate in Sharpeville and Premier Nomvula Mokonyane would be there.

Residents of Sharpeville, in southern Gauteng, burnt tyres and marched today.

“It (the public holiday) is over the Sharpeville massacre. The people from Sharpeville are striking because they don’t understand why (the celebrations) are now in Kliptown,” said Constable Tshishiwa Mitileni.

Mitileni said the police had blocked off the main roads into Sharpeville to stop the protesters from damaging property, adding that the crowd was not violent.

There were service delivery protests elsewhere in the country today.

One of the governing ANC’s priorities at its last lekgotla was to release resources in order to improve services, he said. “People must understand there may be delays, but the commitment was there.”

Public representatives also needed to step in and engage with the people and acknowledge that they had been heard, Khoza said.

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