The monument commemorating the Cradock Four, and other political activists who fell during the apartheid era, was unveiled by deputy president Jacob Zuma in Cradock on Saturday.
Many people braved the icy winter weather to watch Zuma unveil the monument and light a symbolic flame of hope.
Zuma, Eastern Cape premier, Makhenkesi Stofile, and family members of the Cradock four - Matthew Goniwe, Fort Calata, Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlauli - laid wreaths during the opening.
A small group of people, brandishing placards peacefully protested against the fact that, like in the case of the Cradock four, the government and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had not properly compensated for the sins of the past.
Placards read: "Bishop Tutu You Started Please See To Your Victims Reparations"; (referring to the TRC) "Empty Promises Are Not Going To Heal Us But Will More And More Embarrass Us"; "Enough Is Enough Aluta Continua", and "Mr President Please Live Up To The Promises You Made At The ANC Conference In Port Elizabeth. We Are Sick And Tired Of Opportunists."
Goniwe, Calata, Mkhonto, and Mhlauli were killed while travelling between Cradock and Port Elizabeth in June 1985.
Their bodies were found in the dunes on a vacant stretch of coast and police at first claimed that they had been victims of vigilante killings.
Years later seven security policemen confirmed the locals' suspicions and admitted executing the killings.
In December, the TRC granted amnesty to former Vlakplaas commander Eugene de Kock for offences related to the murder of Cradock Four.
However, it refused amnesty to six former members of the Port Elizabeth security branch for the murders because they did not fully disclose the events surrounding them.
The TRC also could not find a political motive for the murders.
De Kock was granted amnesty because he was not directly involved in the murders.
In his address Zuma said South Africa's total emancipation would be difficult to achieve, even not reached, unless a new, dedicated, unselfish and determined cadre was "born".
"This new cadre must be ready to serve the nation at all times."
Zuma said that honouring the Cradock and other fallen heroes of the struggle would strengthen the link between fighting for freedom and the democracy South Africans enjoyed since 1994.
"Let's remember them for the sacrifices they made for the freedom we have today. People were arrested... others were imprisoned for long periods of time, some died at the hands of the apartheid agents. Many people paid the supreme price for this democracy we have today.
"Let us remember them by advancing the ideals they stood for," he told the large audience.
He said there was a need to acknowledge that it took long to end apartheid, and therefore it would also take long to correct the wrongs of the white minority rule of more than four decades.
Zuma's sentiments were echoed by Stofile, who stressed that the monument should serve as a reminder of the price many South Africans paid for the country's liberation.
Several businesses in the province, including the Cape Empowerment Group, contributed unspecified amounts towards the monument and the establishment of the Matthew Goniwe-Cradock Four Trust Fund.
This would be primarily go towards helping needy students from Cradock as well as establish small business, with a view to creating employment for the masses of unemployed people in the small town.
"With the establishment of the monument and the trust fund, there's hope that the memories of the work of the Cradock Four will be kept alive," said a family member of one of the murdered activists.