JOHANNESBURG - Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina on Tuesday said racist elements in South Africa are becoming more emboldened, thus the nation needed another crop of courageous leaders like late struggle veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and slain former SA Communist Party secretary general Chris Hani.
"Today we return to this resting place of Cde Chris Hani with a bleeding heart. We carry with us a heaviness of the loss of the mother of the nation uMama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela whose historic meaning to the struggles of the masses of our country is closely tied to that of comrade Chris Hani, but also equally tied to the people of Ekurhuleni," Masina said at the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Hani who was gunned down by right-wing elements intent on sparking a civil race war as the country moved towards the birth of democracy in the early 1990s.
"The curtain of history is closing down on the generation of the principled, militant and uncompromising leaders of our people. In life, they serve as recognisable and relatable symbols of resistance - who stared the enemies straight in their eyes reminding them evil shall never triumph over the determination of our people."
Masina said it was the passion and courage of late leaders like Madikizela-Mandela and Hani that convinced many young people in South Africa's townships to combat their fear, and join the massive struggle against apartheid and oppression.
"Twenty five years since the passing of comrade Chris Hani, and as we mourn the passing of Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, our country still battles with the system of racism. We have witnessed in the recent years the resurgence of overt racism and numerous incidents of racial attacks by unrepentant racists on black Africans," said Masina.
"This was crowned by the conviction and the sentencing of two years imprisonment of one Ms Vickie Momberg for racist remarks discharged against members of the South African Police Service."
Masina said the "renewed confidence" amongst the racist elements in South Africa requires decisive leadership in the mould of Hani and Madikizela-Mandela.
"The struggle must continue. South Africa needs more Chris Hanis, more Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandelas. We need to produce more community leaders with enough courage and moral fortitude to confront racists and racism, mobilising all freedom-loving people of South Africa on the platform of anti-racism, human equality, social justice and radical economic transformation as important pillars of our democratic and coercive South Africa," he said.
"In order to produce more citizens and leaders in the mould of Chris Hani and others of his time, we have to struggle very hard against forgetting. As government, political parties and other organs of the civil society have a responsibility to preserve South Africa's history and tell it the way it is. Our canon of memory must be kept alive - free of distortions and be handed down to younger generations as part of the process of grooming national consciousness."
Hani, who was also the chief of staff of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC) was shot dead by Polish right-winger Janusz Walus 25 years ago as part of a conspiracy also involving conservative Clive Derby-lewis.
Lindiwe, the youngest daughter of Hani, said working towards healing from the evils of apartheid will take much longer and requires effort from all South Africans.
"Apartheid was not kind, and I'm putting it mildly. We are told everyday how we need to get over it. As I stand a few feet from my father's grave, I am very clear that I will never get over it. To those people saying we should get over it, I think they need to exercise a whole lot of empathy, sensitivity, just take a step off that pedestal of privilege to acknowledge and accept what we went through. Moreover, they should not get over it," she said.
African News Agency/ANA