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Johannesburg - In honour of the youth of 1976, all military veterans would be afforded free services, the Department of Military Veterans announced on Monday.
These included access to free health-care services, education support for them and their dependants, business support, creation of job opportunities, skills development, as well as the provision of decent houses, spokesman Mbulelo Musi said in a statement.
This was in commemoration of the 38th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto uprisings, which was marked on Monday.
On 16 June 1976, a group of schoolchildren set off from Morris Isaacson High School in Orlando, Soweto, to protest over Afrikaans being the medium of instruction, among other grievances against the apartheid government.
There was a stand-off with police, who opened fire on the children.
The township was sealed off and attacks on government buildings followed, as well as the flight of many youths and political leaders into exile. This day is now commemorated as Youth Day.
The department also congratulated the thousands of military veterans who, during this period 38 years ago, “took the bull by its horns”, said Musi.
“They took brave steps to swell the ranks of the armed wings of the liberation movements such as Umkhonto we Sizwe and the Azanian People's Liberation Army,” he said.
There sacrifices allowed South Africa to not only celebrate 20 years of democracy, but also the country's second phase of deepening and accelerating economic transformation.
“We urge the military veterans of the June 16 generations and all others, the SA National Military Veterans Association and indeed all military veteran organisations to work with us in ensuring the attainment of that vision,” said Musi. - Sapa