This week we celebrated and commemorated 40 years since the tragic end of the life of one of the icons of the liberation struggle, Steven Biko; his selfless struggle, dedicated commitment to our people and relentless guts in advancing the interest of an oppressed nation.
But I will be failing dismally if I do not mention that George Botha is always on my mind.
I also think about the feasible notion of initiating a process of an inquest or inquiry into the untimely death of Botha at the hands of the previous regime’s special forces. It should become a reality and a notion to be endorsed by the leadership of this country.
Biko said, “It is better to die for an
idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die.”
Botha shared these sentiments and suffered the same fate.
In 1977 Biko was interrogated and tortured by the security police in Port Elizabeth before being transported to Pretoria, where he died.
Notable deaths in the city during that time included the Cradock Four and Botha, a high school teacher from Paterson High School in the northern areas.
This was at a time when the National Party, that had been in power for more than two decades, was restructuring the country to conform to its policies of separate development.
This was when at the same time the
National Party went about, amid the little integration and proximity there were between white, black, coloured and Indian people, creating new residential areas, and new parallel institutions such as schools, universities and administrative bodies.
It was during this time that unsung heroes like Botha also made their sacrificial contributions to advance the common goal of ridding our country of oppression enforced by the apartheid regime.
Botha was an icon of our struggle, and his diligence and faith in the struggle for justice, for which he died, was equal to others before and after him who died at the hands of the oppressor.
How wrong were they, when they
thought, by his torture and murder, he would be silenced and his ideas would die.
The memory of Botha and the history of South End of 1976 are synonymous, and stir up memories of struggle, the ideal of an end of apartheid, segregation and the affirmation of human values regardless of race or colour.
These were times when harmony resided among the residents of South End and was abruptly destroyed with the Group Areas Act.
The movement of the time was to dare and to defy, to counter and to revolt against any form of dehumanisation.
At schools, universities and tertiary institutions, uprising and defiance were the order of the day and one cannot but
acknowledge Botha’s meaningful and pivotal role in ensuring freedom in our lifetime.
The school teacher and principal became participant, political and social activist, and was at the core of the people who fearlessly, yet peacefully sought the realisation of this ideal.
He died at the hands of the police and there will only be justice if an inquest or inquiry is held, and that the life and time of Botha be commemorated annually.
Some may say I sound nostalgic about a long-forgotten age or tranquil era, but on the contrary, this is a genuine feasible notion that I (if and with the blessing of the family) will pursue.