Wreath laying ceremony pays tribute to Winterveldt massacre victims
Pretoria - The Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation and the City of Tshwane paid tribute to victims of the Winterveldt massacre which happened 35 years ago on March 26 1986.
The spheres of government held the ceremony to remember the Winterveldt residents who had gathered at the local sports ground at City Rocks to protest the brutality of police and elect a committee to negotiate the release of detainees with the Bophuthatswana government.
The peaceful gathering was unfortunately disrupted by police which led to the death of 11 people and scores more injured, but the community and the government agreed the number of people who died was far greater and research was needed to uncover those details.
The living families of the deceased were found and brought together to lay wreaths at the City Rocks sports ground where the massacre happened.
MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation Mbali Hlophe said: “As we continue to commemorate Human Rights Month, and like the Sharpeville massacre, we also remember victims of the Winterveld massacre where once more lives of our people were lost at the hands of the senseless brutality of apartheid police.
“As part of preserving the legacy of Gauteng and the country's liberation heritage, plans are on course to erect a memorial stone in the area."
The department's chief of staff Siphiwe Masuku apologised to the Moyo family who were unhappy that they were not found and consulted about the event as they were part of the families who lost someone but were still without answers.
He said the government wanted to pay tribute to all the affected families and was adamant about doing research and finding all the families so that they can be recognised and helped to find closure. He said research must find out where those who were taken by the police were buried so that their bones could be unearthed and the families could properly lay their remains to rest where they belonged.
Sinah Moyo said: "I am now feeling better after listening to Masuku because this matter still makes me emotional.
“I was 13-years-old when this happened and my cousin who was a few years older than me was taken from our home by officials and to this day we do not know what happened to him. I was emotional because I heard this was happening and my family was not consulted but after our talks I understand the government wants to find us all."
Derrick Mosito said: "I was 22-years-old when this happened but the massacre left me and our neighbours damaged and traumatised. We ask that we find a report about what happened so many people died and so many people disappeared that day. Some were just commuters coming from as far as Ga-Rankuwa who got caught in the middle of this and their families must have a lot of questions about where they are.
"The bodies of people were being removed from the toilets and some have still not been found. That is why residents say this place is haunted and that at night they here firearms and people screaming. This is and will be the beginning of finding peace and closure on this matter."