Zuma: We must never forget Sharpeville

The president was joined by his deputy at the official Human Rights Day celebrations in King William’s Town.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG – The ruthless killing of dozens during the Sharpeville massacre is a sacrifice that should never be forgotten by South Africans who now enjoy the freedom that comes with democracy, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

The president, along with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, attended the official Human Rights Day celebrations in King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape.

21 March marks the day in 1960 when police opened fire, killing 69 and wounding 180 others during a mass march against South Africa's pass laws.

Anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko is also being remembered at this year's commemorations, 40 years after he was beaten to death by police at the age of 31.

Zuma says history should not be repeated.

“We come from a history where there was a scant regard for fundamental human rights. It is most fitting that we pause and remember the past as to learn from it and not repeat.”

He laid a wreath at the black consciousness leader's newly revamped memorial grave site.


Zuma used the today’s Human Rights Day commemoration to reassure South Africans that social grants will be paid by 1 April, saying the problems over the payment contract have now been resolved.

He says government has done well in its efforts to reduce poverty.

“The child support and older persons grant are the two largest grants programmes, with 12 million children and 1.2 million older person benefiting from the social grant.”

Zuma also used the platform to guarantee 17 million social grant recipients that government will pay out on time.

“Let me take this opportunity to once again assure all who receive social grants that they will receive their money at the end of the month.”