City celebrates SA’s equal rights

2017-03-22 12:54
From left: Msunduzi mayor Themba Njilo, Deputy Minister Bheki Cele and MEC for Education Mthandeni Dlungwane handed out food hampers to residents during a Human Rights Day celebration in Woodlands on Tuesday.

From left: Msunduzi mayor Themba Njilo, Deputy Minister Bheki Cele and MEC for Education Mthandeni Dlungwane handed out food hampers to residents during a Human Rights Day celebration in Woodlands on Tuesday. (Bazi Dladla)

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Hundreds of local residents attended a Human Rights Day celebration in Woodlands on Tuesday morning.

A festive atmosphere prevailed with people dancing and chanting South African war cries that had been sung during the historic struggle for liberation.

Music and cheering created a vibrant atmosphere.

Residents from all over the city flocked to Woodlands to be a part of the festivities. The number of people attending the event exceeded expectations and many could not find space inside the tent and had to sit outside.

However, that did not stop them from enjoying the celebrations.

People appeared happy to spend the morning cheering on their leaders and gave them a resounding welcome as they entered the tent and took their seats.

Social Development MEC Weziwe Thusi told the crowd she is aware of all the challenges the people are facing and said it was important to work together to fight these battles. She mentioned issues such as unemployment, poverty and drug abuse among the youth. “We are aware of the outbreak of whoonga on our streets and plans are in place to deal with the problem,” Thusi said.

She said social workers had been sent to Woodlands to check if families there were in need of food.

Many families received food parcels during the celebrations.

Thusi said President Jacob Zuma and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini have confirmed that social grants will be paid to all those who are eligible on April 1, and added that some grants have been increased to R1 600 per month.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Bheki Cele was warmly received by the onlookers who chanted a popular South African war cry “Solomon” as he made his way to the podium.

Cele said South Africans must not forget those who lost their lives during the struggle.

“Today we are here to celebrate having equal rights as South Africans,” Cele said.

He reminded the people of what happened at Sharpville where many South Africans were brutally killed protesting against discrimination.

Human Rights Day was previously known as “Sharpeville Day” but the name changed because human rights struggles did not only take place at Sharpeville but across the entire country, said Cele.

He urged parents to talk to their children and ensure that they “do not forget the struggles of the past”.

Finance MEC Belinda Scott welcomed the fact that South Africans today enjoy equal rights, but took the opportunity to express her “disappointment” at the likes of Helen Zille and Penny Sparrow over public comments they had made. She said their statements implied that there should not be equality among South Africans.

DA MP and KwaZulu-Natal deputy leader Mergan Chetty complained to The Witness that the ANC had turned yesterday’s Human Rights celebration “into a rally” ahead of the upcoming Woodlands by-election. Chetty alleged that ANC was using state resources to fund its agenda.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  human rights day

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