Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane went into the heart of human rights abuses when he laid a wreath in the Sharpeville Human Rights Precinct in honour of the 69 people shot by police on March 21 1960.
He was joined by DA Gauteng provincial leader John Moodey, Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga, Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba, and Midvaal mayor Bongani Baloyi.
Maimane said to Sharpeville’s residents that Human Rights Day is to commemorate the lives that were lost 57 years ago and the gross human rights violations that continues to plague the country today.
“This is not about politics,” said Maimane.
The DA leader continued: “Our struggle is to fight the oppression of colonialism and apartheid … [which I will do] for as long as I live.”
His comment alluded to the tweets sent last week by DA Western Cape Premier Helen Zille. She wrote: “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was only negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc.”
But, said Maimane, “Any system that seeks to attack people can never be glorified.”
“You can’t confuse development with a system that destroyed our people.”
The ANC and the PAC planned nationwide anti-pass campaign. On March 21, PAC supporters in Sharpeville responded to Robert Sobukwe’s call for non-violent protest: people were to leave their passes at home, go to police stations and be arrested. Over the day the crowd grew to about 5 000 and the police to about 300. It’s reported by SA History Online that the shooting was sparked by a scuffle. A policeman allegedly panicked, opening fire and his colleagues joined in. After two minutes, 69 were dead and 108 were left wounded.