South African Communist Party (SACP) secretary-general Solly Mapaila. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/African News Agency (ANA)
South African Communist Party (SACP) secretary-general Solly Mapaila. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/African News Agency (ANA)

'White South Africans who sacrificed their lives fighting apartheid not given enough recognition'

By Siviwe Feketha Time of article published Jan 29, 2020

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Johannesburg - SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila has lamented how many white South Africans who sacrificed their lives in the fight against apartheid were not given enough recognition in the country.

Mapaila was speaking on Wednesday on the sidelines of the inquest into the death of former anti-apartheid activist and trade unionist Dr Neil Aggett, who died while in detention at the hands of apartheid security police.

Aggett was found hanging in his cell at the John Vorster Square police station (now JHB Central police station) and an inquest into his death found no foul play.

The inquiry is currently under way at the Johannesburg High Court until the end of next month.

Mapaila’s attendance coincided with the testimony of ANC veteran and former Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan, who also testified how she was detained and tortured at the same police station.

Mapaila said SA’s regressive race relations were resulting in less attention being paid to how a number of white South Africans were prepared to lay down their lives, along with Africans, in the fight for liberation.

“As you can hear from comrade Barbara, it is quite clear that this matter, particularly of Neil Aggett, is located in the current posture in SA where there is degeneration or regression regarding the national question and the commitment to the non-racial question or outcomes.

“As we resolve the national question in SA, the recognition of the contribution of white South Africans in the liberation struggle has now waned in public amongst the black people, who, some of them, believe that every other white man was an apartheid person when many of them joined the struggle and risked their lives and that of their families,” he said.

He said many white South Africans were jailed and some eventually killed when there were black people who worked for the apartheid government.

Maipaila said while the SACP welcomed the government’s renewed attitude towards ensuring that truth is uncovered about all those who died under questionable circumstances while in police custody during apartheid, the state had to avail funds to ensure that proper investigations were conducted other than just giving green light to inquests.

“That is not enough. We have called for the allocation of resources for investigations as we know, for instance that in the Ahmed Timol case, the family went to great lengths to organise resources and networks of people and institutions to support the case, and they succeeded. 

"But it’s not every family that can have that kind of capacity to create those networks that they did, so we need government resources,” Maapaila said.

He said the entire list of those who died in custody, which was given to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), had to be followed up and looked at individually.

Political Bureau

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