George Floyd killing opened deep wounds for all of us: Ramaphosa

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  • The killing of George Floyd in the US has opened deep wounds for all, President Cyril Ramaphosa said as he wished ANC stalwart Andrew Mlangeni a happy 95th birthday. 
  • Ramaphosa said Mlangeni dedicated his life to fighting against indignity, and the effrontery of having his land taken away, and not even being able to move freely because of the "dompas" pass laws.
  • Ramaphosa said the dreaded dompas had resurfaced across the Atlantic Ocean.

"In the United States, our black brothers and sisters have embarked on a massive fight to reclaim their dignity," said President Ramaphosa on Saturday as he paid tribute to ANC stalwart Andrew Mlangeni's life's work against oppression on his 95th birthday.

"The killing of George Floyd has opened up deep wounds for us all," said Ramaphosa.

"But these are the wounds that our brothers and sisters in the Unites States live with day in and day out, week in and week out, year in and year out.

"The struggles waged by Bab Mlangeni and the fighters of his generation were foremost in the service of the people of South Africa, but they were also for the cause of liberation of all who suffer under tyranny and oppression.

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"That is why we stand in solidarity with our African-American brothers and sisters, and express our wish that the American people can reconcile, as we did, and close once and for all the doors of racial injustice. The dignity they seek is the dignity that Bab Mlangeni has fought for his whole life."

Floyd died after police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on his neck during an arrest. Floyd is heard on a video saying he cannot breathe, before he dies. His death has triggered Black Lives Matter protests globally.

Ramaphosa said Mlangeni was pained deeply throughout his life to watch acts that infringed on the dignity of others. 

"I know that seeing our children in mud schools, seeing men and women collecting water from dirty rivers, and seeing pensioners sleeping outside pension pay points, have aggrieved him greatly. And he has not hesitated to speak out when necessary."

"It has been of great concern to him, and is a concern we share, that 26 years into democracy we have still not fully met the developmental aspirations of our people, and that this is an affront to human dignity." 

Ramaphosa said the promise of a better life for all could not be deferred and historical redress should be accelerated.

"Bab Mlangeni, you have sounded the warning many times," he added in his message for Mlangeni. "You have consistently and constantly reminded us that our impressive Constitution means little unless the rights it enshrines are guarantees and are fulfilled. 

"Unless we make this a world that is truly free of the dompas of the heart and the mind, we will never be a united nation."

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