KZN govt to remember massacre victims

2013-12-24 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal government will today unveil 31 tombstones and two walls of remembrance at Ezinqoleni sports grounds on the South Coast to commemorate the Shobashobane massacre.

The massacre took place on Christmas Day in 1995, when hundreds of IFP supporters, armed with automatic weapons, pistols and traditional weapons, attacked the villagers and killed 19 people.

Only 18 people were tried for the massacre and 13 were found guilty. Five had their sentences overturned on appeal.

Provincial government spokesperson Ndabezinhle Sibiya said yesterday the tombstones and two walls of remembrance would mark the graves of the massacre’s victims and others buried at the gravesite.

Today’s event will see the IFP attend after Premier Senzo Mchunu invited all political parties in the KZN Legislature to be part of the proceedings.

Sibiya said Mchunu wanted communities and leaders to unite in celebrating the peace and reconciliation that was achieved in this province. “As part of the celebration of our freedom next year, government wants to recognise those who died during the struggle for liberation,” he said.

The IFP welcomed the invitation, with the party’s national chairperson Blessed Gwala saying the commemoration came at a time when the country was still celebrating the legacy of Nelson Mandela.

“As we know Dr Mandela was championing peace and reconciliation among different communities and sectors in South Africa. It is within this spirit and in efforts to uphold this legacy, which our president Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi shared with Dr Mandela, that we will approach the Shobashobane event,” he said.

However, Gwala said his party was concerned that the commemorations focused only on ANC-aligned communities. “The wounds inflicted by apartheid and by the low-intensity civil war spared almost no community across the political spectrum,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sibiya announced that Mchunu had instructed the heritage department in his office to work with the Department of Arts and Culture and National Heritage Council to work on the KZN liberation route heritage project.

“This project will seek, through high-level research, documentation, conservation, protection and exhibition, to recognise the roles played by various individuals, groups, communities, organisations and events in the shaping the road to freedom.”

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