Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma has encouraged South Africans to continue to build a non-racial society and fight racism in memory of late struggle stalwart Chris Hani.
“We have sadly not yet succeeded in building the non-racial society that we envisaged. There is a resurgence of racism in our country. It is also clear that racists have become more emboldened,” President Zuma said.
On Monday, he addressed the annual Chris Hani Wreath Laying Ceremony in Elspark, Boksburg, to honour and celebrate the life and legacy of Hani.
President Zuma said instances in some marches, which took place last week, demonstrated that racism is real and exists in our country.
“Many placards and posters displayed beliefs that we thought had been buried in 1994, with some posters depicting black people as baboons. It is clear that some of our white compatriots regard black people as being lesser human beings or sub-human,” he said.
President Zuma said racists no longer fear being caught or exposed.
“Racism is a gross violation of human rights and plunged this country into decades of conflict in the past. We cannot allow and assist racists to take our country backwards,” he said.
At a legislative level, Government has published the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill.
“Once it becomes law, it will criminalise several forms of discrimination including on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and nationality. We call upon all freedom loving South Africans to unite and fight racism in our country, in memory of Comrade Chris Hani.
“Chris Hani abhorred racism and fought against it all his life. It will take time but it needs to be done, if we are to achieve a truly united and non-racial society,” President Zuma said.
As government celebrates the centenary of Oliver Reginald Tambo this year, President Zuma said young people and future generations need to understand the life and contribution of these two outstanding patriots.
He said Hani was a committed advocate for a democratic transformation that would bring about political, social and economic justice in the country.
“He believed that our democracy would only be meaningful if it guaranteed equality in the access to education, healthcare, jobs and housing among others,” President Zuma said.
As part of the wreath laying ceremony, the President unveiled a plaque on the declaration of the grave of Hani and the Chris Hani Memorial and Walk of Remembrance as a National Heritage Site, as declared by the Department of Arts and Culture.
Hani was a former uMkhonto weSizwe commander, who played a significant role during the liberation struggle. He was assassinated on 10 April 1993 outside his home in Dawn Park in Boksburg.
The month of April has since been named a Chris Hani Month by the City of Ekurhuleni.