- President Cyril Ramaphosa has honoured the Nakedi brothers who were victims of a racist attack on Christmas Day, calling them his special guests.
- He told the brothers not to fear white people as they no longer have power over black people as apartheid was done.
- Ramaphosa lambasted racism in South Africa and promised those who perpetuated it would face the might of the law.
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa used the opening of his January 8 speech to talk tough on racism and called the incident where two teenage boys were victims of a racist attack in the Free State "shameful".
Shortly after starting to deliver his speech at the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium in Mangaung, where the ANC held its 111th-anniversary celebrations, Ramaphosa said young people must "resist racism".
He said this as he called on the Nakedi brothers, whom he referred to as his "special guests", to come onto the stage. The two teenagers were victims of a racist attack on Christmas Day.
"We thank them that they are still alive. I saw one of them hitting one of the men with a fist. We thank you young men and we are saying what happened to you must not discourage you. You must be strong as young men.
"The message I want to give to you is that the spirit of our forebears who fought against the apartheid system must fill you with courage as it does all of us," added Ramaphosa.
The teenagers were attacked in a swimming pool at the Maselspoort resort in Bloemfontein by three white men.
In a video, which went viral on social media, a white man is seen slapping a 13-year-old boy, who is then thrown back into the pool when he tries to get up.
The man then appears to try to choke the 18-year-old. Attempts to break up the confrontation failed, and the situation escalated when another man pulls the younger teen's hair.
In his speech, Ramaphosa said what the boys went through was "cruel acts of racism and humiliation" at the hands of "old, white men".He added:
"Ke ya leboha bashimane le dule le tiile, le seke la tshaba makgoa [Thank you, young men, stay strong and do not fear white people]. Don't fear white people, their time has passed, and they no longer have power, their apartheid is gone. Stay strong, young men," said Ramaphosa.
He also used the opportunity to thank the parents of the boys whom he said resisted racist acts and practices.
"To those in our country who still want to perpetuate racism, we say … today we do not want racists here in South Africa. If you want to practice your racist tendencies, South Africa is not the place to come and do that.
"If you practice racism, we will make sure that you feel the might of the law because the people of South Africa will never, ever allow racism to reign in our country again, as Nelson Mandela the father of our democracy said," said Ramaphosa to resounding cheers from the crowd.
As the ANC wrapped up its 55th national conference on Thursday, part of its resolution is to clamp down on racism.
Reporting back on the party's strategy and tactics resolution, national executive committee member David Makhura said the ANC party was clear it had to act decisively on "right-wing" extremist groupings and incidents.
"We are heading to a dangerous place which is unacceptable. We must sharpen our response as long as the ANC is in charge.
"We cannot tolerate racism. We did not discuss specific instruments, like what legislation will be used. We said, at the state level, we need to sharpen our instruments.
"The South African government needs to be following through on our Constitution. I know that in dealing with racism, there may be specific proposals from other commissions on what needs to be done," said Makhura this week.
Meanwhile, the three men who attacked the Nakedi brothers - 48-year-old Kobus Klassen, 33-year-old Johan Nel, and 47-year-old Jan van der Westhuizen - will be back in court later this month.
Nel and Van der Westhuizen face charges of common assault crimen injuria, while Klassen faces a charge of attempted murder.