Pretoria – Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has paid his respects to the youth of 1976, who lost their lives in the struggle for freedom and a democratic South Africa.
He was accompanied by Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Jeff Radebe, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Gauteng Premier David Makhura, Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi and Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau as they laid wreaths at the Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum in Soweto on Thursday.
This year marks 40 years since the 16 June 1976 Soweto uprising, where hundreds of young people protested against the apartheid government and their imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.
It was on this day that hundreds of young people lost their lives in the struggle for liberation, which started a revolt that spread to other parts of the country, paving the way for today’s South Africa that is democratic, non-racist, non-sexist and belonging to all who live in it.
The Youth Day celebrations will be held at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
Young people who live in the area can already be seen walking towards the stadium and some of them are wearing school uniform. Buses are also dropping off young people who are in high spirits as they sing struggle songs.
During the wreath laying ceremony, Mayor Tau said government is continuing to create a better South Africa for all who live in it.
“Today we are here to report back to the youth of 1976 that the many ideals they campaigned for have been realised,” he said.
The families of those who lost their lives on 16 June 1976 also laid wreaths during the ceremony to honour their loved ones.
This year, Youth Month is celebrated under the theme ‘Youth Moving South Africa forward’.
President Jacob Zuma is expected to address the nation at Orlando Stadium as part of the Youth Day celebrations.