|Celebrating Human Rights for all
||1 Mar 2012
On 21 March 1960, events were planned for many parts of the country, for people to protest against the Pass Laws. These laws required all Africans living or working in and around towns to carry a documents (known as passes) with them at all times. Failure to carry this document would lead to arrest by the police.
On this day people decided to go to police stations without their passes and to demand that they be arrested. The idea was that many people would be arrested and the jails would become so full that the country’s unjust laws would be exposed to the international world. It was hoped that this would lead to the draconian laws being scrapped.
At Sharpeville in Gauteng, thousands of unarmed people gathered at the police station demanding to be arrested. They were met by 300 police officers who opened fire on the crowd. Sixty-nine people were killed and more that 180 others were injured.
Shortly after this the ANC and PAC were banned and the ANC decided to launch the armed struggle. After a period of political lull and hightened suppression during the 1960's, the 1970's experienced increased resistance and the struggle culminated in the end of apartheid and birth of our democracy in 1994.
The year 2012 has turned out to be a remarkable and amazing year in the history of South Africa and Sedibeng. This year the ruling party celebrates its centenary, 100th year of a selfless struggle to liberate South Africa and the African continent, making it a historic moment for all the people of South Africa.
In Sedibeng, the Cradle of Human Rights, we will also be commemorating and celebrating the epoch of the South African liberation struggle, which is the Sharpeville Massacre, the day which has since been declared Human Rights Day – a Public Holiday in South Africa.
Every year on the 21st March, the people of Sedibeng, the country and the entire world bow their heads to observe brutal killings of anti-pass laws and apartheid protestors - making it one of the most historic political events which shook the world and changed the course of history in South Africa. This year, 2012, Sedibeng commemorates the 52 years of that massacre of the 21st March.
It is during a period like this one that we take a moment and remember our heroes & heroines in the Region and the country. We believe that we are where we are today as a Region and as a nation because of their selfless sacrifices. In everything that we do for our people, we continue to strive to do it better as we know that the democracy we enjoy today did not come easy and cheap. But our people paid dearly as our history is now written with their blood.
This year's commemorative programmes extend beyond one day as is usually the case. In addition, the objectives of this event, in the main, is to remind the country of the great suffering and loss of lives which accompanied the struggle for human rights; to celebrate the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; and to raise awareness on human rights, especially among women and young people.
These programmes are further meant to accord this significant day in our history its rightful status. With these programmes, the government will be taking the moment to report back to the communities of Sedibeng and those of Sharpeville in particular, on the achievements attained in the efforts to better their lives. We will further report on the service delivery plans as informed by our integrated development plan.
The new democratic government declared March 21 Human Rights Day not only to commemorate the struggle of the people in Sharpeville, but all struggles fought across South Africa.
We celebrate this day annually in partnership with the Gauteng Provincial and the National Government to:
The 52nd Anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre is observed under the theme: “All Shall Have Equal Rights”
- Remind us of the great suffering and loss of lives that accompanied the struggle for human rights in South Africa;
- Celebrate our new Constitution and Bill of Rights;
- Raise awareness on our Human Rights and our struggle for human rights, especially amongst the most vulnerable groups which are the women & youth;
- Commemorate the Sharpeville Massacre and other struggles for human rights in Sedibeng & Gauteng as a whole
- Promote service delivery in the region;
- Recognize the role played by the survivors & victims of the Sharpeville Massacre;
- Create awareness & patriotism among citizens of Gauteng around the Human Rights Day