Zuma unveils monument at Groot Marico capture site

The site is where Jacob Zuma and other MK recruits were arrested by the apartheid police in 1963 as they made their way to Botswana.

President Jacob Zuma and North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo stand before the Zuma Capture site monument unveiled in Groot Marico on 01 October 2017. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG – President Jacob Zuma unveiled a monument erected in his honour in the North West province at the newly established Groot Marico Heritage Site on Wednesday.

The event marked the launch of the Zuma Arrest Site which forms part of plans by the provincial government to promote job creation, tourism and economic growth in the area.

In his speech, Zuma said: “The building and maintenance of the heritage site has a greater potential to stimulate economic activity and create much-needed jobs in the communities of Groot Marico, Bahurutshe villages, Zeerust as well as surrounding areas in this province. It will also contribute towards cultural tourism both domestically and internationally.”

The President was among 52 new Umkhonto weSizwe recruits arrested, by the apartheid police in the area in 1963, as they made their way to Botswana to undergo military training.

“I am humbled and immensely honoured to have been part of such a courageous legion of then young freedom fighters.

Today’s event takes me back many years, to that fateful arrest with my comrades and patriots, leading to 10 years imprisonment on Robben Island.”

Zuma was flanked by North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo and other dignitaries.

RESISTANCE

Earlier in the year, the provincial government revealed plans to erect a life-size sculpture of the President at the capture site, in an advertisement by the Department of Culture, Arts and Traditional Affairs, which commissioned bids for a six-meter-high bronze statue and a plaque at Groot Marico.

At the time, the cost of the sculpture was an estimated R6 million.

Members of the Democratic Alliance (DA) picketed near the event, demonstrating against the use of state money which it says could have gone towards bettering the lives of residents.

In a statement released on Twitter, the DA said it is deeply saddened by the living conditions and the environment surrounding the ‘huge and shiny monument’, adding that residents living just a kilometer from the site have no running water.

It said: “We believes that this monument is a slap in the face of every South African that is struggling to find a job, that suffers the non-delivery of basic services and is affected by African National Congress corruption.”

The party says it has respect for the rich heritage of our country, but it will never support the waste of state funds while many of [South Africans] still go to bed hungry.