Johannesburg - Two of Soweto’s most iconic historical sites have been declared national heritage sites, the national department of arts and culture announced on Friday.
The Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication, formerly known as Freedom Square in Kliptown, Soweto has been declared a national heritage site.
Previously a makeshift soccer field which was cleared and fenced off, the site is where the Congress of the People convened in June 1955 for the adoption of the Freedom Charter.
In its statement of significance, the department’s agency, the SA Heritage Resource Agency (Sahra), states that the charter was drafted at the Congress of the People for all South Africans to voice their hopes and dreams for the country’s future.
However, historians Thomas Karis, Gwendolyn Carter and Gail Gerhart claim it was read by Sisulu, late former president Nelson Mandela and another late Struggle stalwart Joe Matthews, who suggested that it was too late to make changes to the already prepared draft as thousands of copies had already been reproduced, according to UK journalist David James Smith’s 2010 book Young Mandela: The Revolutionary Years.