PROUD: MKVA member Alfred Willie with Michel Assure, sister of Struggle hero Ashley Kriel and Selina Williams, sister of Coline Williams, at the commemoration held in Athlone yesterday. Picture: Phando Jikelo
Athlone - The families of fallen Struggle heroes, MK guerrillas Ashley Kriel, Coline Williams, Robert Waterwitch and Anton Fransch, were honoured during a commemoration in Athlone on Sunday.

About 100 MKVA members presented the families with a spear and an ANC flag as a token of appreciation for their roles in fighting the apartheid regime.

The MK Military Veterans Association and the families marched for more than a kilometre through Church Street in Athlone, where Fransch was murdered, to Williams's and Waterwitch's memorial, before making their way to the site where Kriel was shot dead.

Speaking at the Ashley Kriel lecture in Athlone, MKVA national executive committee member Carl Niehaus said that in the Struggle against apartheid there was much suffering, and Kriel and Fransch had fought fearlessly and sacrificed their lives.

During the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), security police officer Jeffrey Benzien admitted shooting Kriel in the back while he was handcuffed. Benzien was granted amnesty in 1999.

Fransch, who acted as an operative inside the country after receiving military training in exile, fought the police and SADF soldiers for several hours in a marathon exchange of gunfire until he was killed by a hand grenade.

“Ashley Kriel was simply shot dead while he was handcuffed by a man who today walks around freely. The man who spoke to the TRC could not have been telling the truth. It is not possible to simply let go of what happened to Kriel. We will do what is necessary and investigate what happened. We cannot turn a blind eye,” said Niehaus.

He said many people were still living in hardship despite 23 years of democracy.

“We have not yet achieved our full liberation. We did not fight only to vote, as important as it was, voting was the first step to economic freedom. We know the land has not been returned to the people. Our patience cannot be forever. Things have to change, and the time is now,” said Niehaus.

Williams’s younger sister, Selina Williams, said her sister was killed fighting for a just cause.

“We made peace with my sister’s death and accepted that joining the ANC was what she wanted, and that she knew the consequences,” said Selina.

“I am encouraged by the turnout of youth today because they themselves have their own challenges,” she said.

Kriel’s sister Michel Assure said she was happy her brother had made a difference for the liberation of the country.

“I have a joyous feeling that we once again commemorate his life,” she said.

MKVA executive member Alfred Willie said the association was planning a plaque upon which all Umkhonto we Sizwe members would have their names written.

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