PMB’s war memorial

2010-03-22 00:00

AT last, Pietermaritzburg people who lost their lives during the Seven-Day War between the ANC and the IFP are going to be remembered through the construction of a memorial wall at the Heroes’ Acre at Slangspruit cemetery.

Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize revealed this during his address at the provincial Human Rights Day commemoration in Lions River yesterday.

Addressing thousands of people at the provincial rally, Mkhize said the wall will bear all the names of the people who died during the battles and in political violence that took thousands of lives from the late 1980s to the early 1990s.

The infamous Seven-Day War, from March 25 to April 2, 1990, saw hundreds of people killed and homes and property destroyed when IFP and ANC supporters attacked each other.

In an interview with The Witness, Mkhize said the construction of the memorial wall is not a new issue as it was discussed during IFP and ANC peace meetings.

“It’s an old plan, but putting it into action is taking a long time. A team comprising the IFP and ANC was established to look into the matter, but nothing materialised. Now it’s going to be handled by the heritage section in the Office of the Premier,” he added.

Mkhize said the construction of the wall is part of the reconciliation process meant to part ways with an era of violence.

“People must always understand where we come from with this freedom. We don’t have to forget our history.”

An announcement will be made in due course for people to submit names of their relatives who died during this politically violent period, he said.

Mkhize used the celebrations to encourage people to get tested for HIV and Aids and to help his government fight corruption.

He said he and his wife, Dr May Mashego-Mkhize, have been married for the past 25 years, but they both went for an HIV test to make sure of their status.

“Since there’s no more political violence, people are dying of Aids, TB and other diseases. We have to unite and fight this new war. This disease will not end if we continue to run away from testing. Let us not make jokes about infected people, because tomorrow we might be infected,” he said.

The premier commended KwaZulu-Natal residents for not engaging in disruptive service deli­very protests like other provinces, and urged them to continue talking to his government when they have grievances.

Before the function at the Lions River Sports Ground, Mkhize and other dignitaries attended a interdenominational service at the site near Howick where former President Nelson Mandela was arrested on August 5, 1962.

Mandela went on to spend 27 years in prison after the arrest.

uMngeni Mayor Edward Dladla said the site where the memorial plaque is placed was pointed out by Mandela himself when he was bestowed with the honorary citizenship of Howick in 1996.

After the roadside service, the premier went to visit residents of Lions River township.

Mkhonto Wesizwe, ANC and other struggle veterans were honoured guests at the function.

The crowd was entertained with music and comedy sketches.

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