Cartoon makes light of June 16

2010-06-26 10:04

June 1976 marked a new beginning in the history of this nation and,

to a large degree, it was the turning point in the struggle for the emancipation

of this country.

Sam Nzima captured the horror of that day with his lens and

thereby immortalised its images for posterity.

He described what he saw: “The first shot was fired before children

started throwing stones.

Then absolute chaos broke out.

The children ran all

over the place and stoned the police.

A postmortem revealed that Hector

Pieterson had been killed by a shot fired ­directly into him, not a bullet

ricocheting off the ground as the police later stated.”

It is therefore unfortunate that Daniel Mothowagae chose to depict

this tragedy in the manner that he did with his cartoon.

Bafana Bafana’s failures have absolutely nothing to do with the

deaths of our heroes and heroines, and it is downright disgusting and a sick

joke to lampoon them as similar.

Ours is to pay homage to our leaders who made supreme sacrifices

when most of us could or would not.

Ferial Haffajee has opined that freedom of expression is not

absolute, saying: “My gentle brother made me ­understand, for the first time,

that freedom of expression was not absolute, no rights were.

Rights have to be

balanced against responsibilities, not doing harm, causing offence and

understanding social mores.”

So one would expect that City Press has a sense of decorum that

would have honoured June 16 without making a mockery of our lost leaders.

Some of the people who died in 1976 have simply disappeared, their

last resting places unknown even to their families.

Even now, 34 years later, their bodies remain untraceable.

Just look at the face of Mbuyisa ­Makhubu carrying the body of

13-year-old Pieterson, and see the pain and bravery that was associated with

this historic event reflected on it.

Let us for a moment imagine an ­Israeli sports team losing a game

and a cartoonist then depicting a mass murder in a gas chamber where the players

and their coach are mowed down by the Nazi regime.

Sick? Yes! And can you just

imagine the outrage from Israeli and Jewish readers.

I am equally baffled by the deafening silence of the National Press


I recall the recent brouhaha surrounding the cartoon depicting the

Prophet Muhammad.

The Press Club chairperson was outraged and many in the Muslim

community went on the offensive, protesting against the mockery of the prophet.

Yet a cartoon that seeks to undermine the families, relatives and friends of

those who died in 1976 under such terrifying circumstances elicits silence from

the Press Club.

Clearly, if the Press Club can be a body of spokespeople for the

Muslim community, why not for victims of powerless African children? Whose

interests or agendas do they represent?

What is a cold truth about June 16 – a truth that is often not

respected and revered – is that June 16 was at the heart of the South African


That is the truth.

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