President Jacob Zuma will lead the celebrations of the national Reconciliation Day in Gopane near Zeerust in North West on Friday amid shocking pockets of racial tension in the country.
This year’s commemoration builds on the 60th anniversary of the women’s March to the Union Buildings in 1956. It commemorates the bravery of women in 1957 in Zeerust, who revolted against the hated pass laws in the villages of Dinokana, Lekgopung and Motswedi.
The women refused to collect their passbooks from mobile units.
“We salute the women of Gopane village in Zeerust who organised a march against pass laws, also in 1957. Their actions illustrate the active participation of women in the struggle for liberation, not only in urban areas but in rural areas as well. This serves as an inspiration as we continue building a new nation, founded on the values of human rights, justice and equality,” Zuma said ahead of the celebration.
The commemoration would be held under the theme “Bridging the Divide Towards a Non-racial Society”.
Reconciliation Day comes at a time when South Africans have been shocked by incidents during 2016 in various parts of the country.
In Mpumalanga, two white men are appearing in court for attempting to force a black man into a coffin and threatened to torch it.
The accused, Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson, have been charged with kidnapping and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
In a video circulated on social media recently, one of the men is seen forcing Victor Rethabile Mlotshwa into a coffin while the other threatens to set it alight.
The incident apparently happened on August 27.
Their case has been postponed to January 25 as they were remanded.
Other cases include estate agent Vicki Momberg who was filmed using the K-word after a smash-and-grab incident in Johannesburg in June, KwaZulu-Natal estate agent Penny Sparrow who labelled black people “monkeys” back in January.
Hout Bay resident Vanessa Hartley, this month referred to black Africans as “stupid animals” and in May, Capetonian Matthew Theunissen went on social media labelling the government a bunch of “k…s”.
The first time the Day of Reconciliation was celebrated as a public holiday was in 1995.
The new government chose to represent national unity by choosing a date that had significance for both the Afrikaner and liberation struggle traditions.
For Afrikaners, December 16 was commemorated as the Day of the Vow, also known as the Day of the Covenant or Dingaan’s Dag (Dingaan’s Day).
The governing ANC military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe was formed on December 16, 1961.
MK was integrated into the South African National Defence Force as part of the new democratic dispensation.
When Apartheid ended, it was decided to keep 16 December as a public holiday, but to infuse it with the purpose of fostering reconciliation and national unity. It was established by the government in 1994.[Source: ENCA]