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Mashatile Honours Fallen Umkhonto we Sizwe Heroes

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Deputy President Paul Mashatile officially handed over tombstones to the families of 21 former Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) operatives who lost their lives between 1986 and 1990.

Umkhonto Wesizwe

Johannesburg – Deputy President Paul Mashatile officially handed over tombstones to the families of 21 former Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) operatives who lost their lives between 1986 and 1990.

The solemn ceremony took place in Soweto, Johannesburg, where the Deputy President underscored the significance of this event. Describing it as “an important and historic moment”, Mashatile emphasised its lasting impact, stating that it “must go down in the annals of history.”

“We are living up to the constitutional injunction which enjoins us to, ‘recognise the injustices of our past, honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land, and to heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights’,” he said.

Mashatile expressed hope that the unveiling of these headstones would provide a sense of closure to the affected families, acknowledging the profound suffering and agony they had endured. Addressing the families and attendees, he paid tribute to the liberation heroes, highlighting their immense sacrifices, including disintegrated families, to secure the freedom many enjoy today.

“We will never forget their selflessness, courage, and commitment to defending our nation. They demonstrated remarkable courage and strength in the face of adversity, showing unwavering determination and fortitude in the most difficult of situations,” he added.

Reflecting on the struggle for freedom, the Deputy President recounted the challenging journey South Africans faced before 1994. He lamented the fact that many liberation heroes never witnessed the dawn of democracy, yet paid the ultimate price with the hope of a free South Africa.

The apartheid system, he said, denied black South Africans fundamental human rights, including the right to vote, and access to quality education and healthcare, among others. Despite these immense challenges, South Africans never relinquished their fight for freedom and equality.

“As we remember and commemorate their sacrifice, it is important for us to not only honour their memory but also to ensure that their legacy lives on. We must continue to support and care for our veterans and their families. We must strive to create a society that values and respects the sacrifices made by MK veterans and their families,” Mashatile asserted.

He stressed the nation’s collective duty to safeguard democratic gains and tackle poverty and inequality. Mashatile indicated that under-development was now the common enemy, requiring a more focused response.

The Deputy President expressed regret that many veterans and their families still face poverty after 30 years of democracy. He acknowledged the difficulties these heroes face, having been unable to secure retirement savings or invest in their children’s futures.

Government, he assured, is committed to bringing about the deserved change. Through the Presidential Task Team on Military Veterans, the state is dedicated to addressing concerns and needs regarding veterans’ benefits, support, and improved services.

“We are committed to providing support to the families of MK veterans in various ways, including financial assistance, to ensure they can lead fulfilling lives.”

The ceremony also included a wreath-laying at five cemeteries: one headstone in Ga-Rankuwa, two at Crystal Park, four in Tembisa, seven at Avalon, and eight at Westpark, symbolically uniting the nation in remembrance and honour.

Pretoria – The Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) has condemned the ConCourt for sentencing former president Jacob Zuma to 15 months imprisonment.
Pretoria – The Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) has condemned the ConCourt for sentencing former president Jacob Zuma to 15 months imprisonment.

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