Editorial | Day should be about massacre

Yvonne Brown soothes Gogo Mathilda Rwendana, 81, who became upset when the crowd turned hostile towards mayor Athol Trollip.
Yvonne Brown soothes Gogo Mathilda Rwendana, 81, who became upset when the crowd turned hostile towards mayor Athol Trollip.
Image: Fredlin Adriaan

The striking image on the front page of yesterday’s edition said it all. An 81-year-old woman, who had made her way to Uitenhage’s Allanridge Hall to remember the fallen of the Langa Massacre, reduced to tears when a solemn commemoration turned into a screaming match.

There may have been many at the venue who, for whatever reason, felt offended by mayor Athol Trollip’s presence.

But it is untenable that an event, which allows families of the victims to remember and honour their loved ones, should descend into a political maelstrom with threats of violence and confrontation between ANC and DA supporters.

The anguish on the face of Gogo Matihida Rwendana should make that plain for all to see.

What should have been neutral ground to pay respects – sponsored by the state – appeared to look suspiciously as though Trollip had been set up after he was booed off stage.

For an ANC official to suggest that the mayor was somehow linked to those responsible for the Langa Massacre is, in any event, disingenuous when it is common knowledge he was always in opposition politics to the apartheid government.

Quite apart from this unnecessary brouhaha, it should be borne in mind what the day is actually about – human rights.

And it is the victims’ families and survivors of one of the country’s darkest days 33 years ago who are still being denied them.

Living in poverty and without proper housing, they feel they have ceased to exist in the eyes of their leaders – save for this one day when politicians arrive bearing food parcels and make promises of far greater assistance, which turn out to be empty vessels.

Let these people be the focus – long before those who should be taking responsibility for their needs show up again as usual next year.

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