Nothing to celebrate for Langa’s victims

SAD DAY: Hombakazi Zitho Solomon, 72, and Thozama Mdyesha, 59, said Heritage Day was a painful time for their families as it brought back sad memories Picture by: EUGENE COETZEE
SAD DAY: Hombakazi Zitho Solomon, 72, and Thozama Mdyesha, 59, said Heritage Day was a painful time for their families as it brought back sad memories Picture by: EUGENE COETZEE

SURVIVORS and families of victims of the KwaLanga Massacre in Uitenhage say Human Rights Month has become a nightmare for them as they can no longer believe the government’s promises of financial assistance and jobs.

With the milestone 30th anniversary commemorations of the massacre at Rosedale Field today, those affected – many of whom are unemployed, with some not even able to work because of injury – say all they have is painful memories.

Most of the families survive on what they describe as inadequate government grants.

Andile Ngoqo, 54, said his memories were still vivid. “I will never forget March 1985 when people were killed like flies.”

The massacre occurred in Maduna Road, KwaLanga as a crowd of people set off for the funeral of five comrades who had been killed. They were confronted by four Nyalas and policemen pointing R1’s at them. Then they opened fire.

“People were screaming and running in all directions. I could see people falling in front of me and my stomach was cut open. What puzzled everyone was that in another street there were 10 ambulances and the fire brigade, who started to clean up the blood. “What happened that day left many people traumatised. We were promised a trust fund but we don’t know what happened to it. People know we exist only during this time. It would be much better if we were part of the organising team for the events of Human Rights Month. They could even offer us catering jobs instead of giving them to other people,” he said.

Hombakazi Zinto Solomon, 72, lost her husband, Phakamile Solomon, in the massacre.

“This time of year brings pain to us. The Truth Commission only managed to dry our tears, but we will never forget or easily forgive.

“We have fought for this democracy to live a better life, but we don’t even enjoy the fruits of democracy. We no longer want to listen to their [government’s] promises because they bring more pain to our lives,” Solomon said.

Another survivor, Thozama Mdyesha, 59, who was shot from behind with the bullet exiting her stomach, said the families were tired of food leftovers.

“They organise these fancy gala dinners but no one cares what we eat during the rest of the year. I can’t work because of my back pain. We all fought for this freedom but it is only enjoyed by a select few.”

Uitenhage Massacre Foundation chairman Nicholas Malgas said families had been complaining to the foundation for years. “We are used to government making empty promises to people.

“These people need employment. They have been promised jobs since 2010.”

Nelson Mandela Bay executive director of arts and culture, Noxolo Nqwazi, said even though the municipality was not able to deliver on all the families’ expectations, the metro was on the right track. “For now the basics are attended to.”

-Yoliswa Sobuwa

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