News24

Steve Biko's cell cleansed

2002-09-08 20:33

Johannesburg - The 25th anniversary of the death of Steve Bantu Biko, the Black Consciousness leader, was marked with the cleansing of a Port Elizabeth police cell where he was detained prior to his death, SABC television news reported on Sunday.

Biko died at the hands of apartheid security police on September 12, 1977.

Biko was brought to the Port Elizabeth police cells in August 1977. He was always kept in chains, and slept in urine-soaked blankets, often naked and cold. He was tortured to death on September 12. Many leaders across the world remembered Biko's death, which changed the political landscape of South Africa.

In a special supplement by the Steve Biko Foundation, Steve Biko 25 years on, former president Nelson Mandela said: "His life was extinguished with more callousness and casualness than a person snuffing out a candle flame between calloused thumb and forefinger."

Miriam Tladi, a well-known novelist said: "Steve was one of those leaders who charted the course for our self-image and for their relentless efforts paid the ultimate price for doing so."

Azapo

Members of the Azanian People's Organisation (Azapo) visited the cells on Sunday as a symbolic restoration of their mentor's dignity. The clergy cleansed it to remove the spiritual and physical humiliation Biko suffered.

"This is to us an emotional connection with Steve once more and to ensure that we don't forget what happened to many of us who brought our freedom," said Mosibudi Mangena, Azapo's president.

Azapo insists that Biko's legacy will always be relevant as long as the ideals he lived and died for are not fulfilled. "Our country is not equal. Equal only in Constitution and in the ballot, we still have to struggle to build that," Mangena said.