Zuma urges SA to preserve Steve Biko’s legacy

Steve Biko died on 12 September 1977 from injuries sustained while in police custody at what was then called the Pretoria Central Prison.

FILE: Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) founder Steve Bantu Biko. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma is expected to commemorate the 40th anniversary since the death of Steve Biko by laying a wreath in his cell at the Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre.

Biko died on 12 September 1977 from injuries sustained while in police custody at what was then called the Pretoria Central Prison.

Spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga says that the president has urged South Africans to remember, celebrate and preserve Biko’s legacy.

“As the country marks the 40th anniversary of his passing, President Jacob Zuma will visit Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre tomorrow (Tuesday) and lay a wreath at the cell in which Mr Biko died.”

In a statement, Zuma said that Biko’s leadership and ideals inspired not only South African liberation struggle activists in South Africa but activists across the continent and the world who pursued an anti-racist, anti-colonial and anti-imperialist agenda.

“Steve Biko fought white supremacy and was equally disturbed by what he saw as an inferiority complex amongst black people. He emphasised the need for psychological liberation for black people, to accompany physical liberation to undo the damage caused by apartheid.

“He advocated black pride and black self-reliance, believing that black people should be their own liberators and lead organisations fighting for freedom. He practiced what he preached with regards to self-reliance and led the establishment of several community projects which were aimed at improving the lives of the people.’

Biko was a medical student at the University of Natal, where he was a student leader and a founder of the South African Student Association (Saso).

Due to his political activism, he was expelled from the medical school and was later banned.

In his honour, government - through the Gauteng Department of Health - renamed the Pretoria Academic Hospital as Steve Biko Academic Hospital, in September 2008.

The Presidency says it befits his memory that Steve Biko Academic Hospital is one of the best-managed public hospitals in the country, according to the reports of the Office of Health Standards Compliance, which is the watchdog of the standard of health in this country.

One of the main streets in Tshwane, Beatrix Street, where the hospital is also located, was also renamed as Steve Biko Street.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)