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Address by Minister Ronald Lamola at the Handover & Reburial Ceremony of the Exhumed Remains of Nine Hanged Cato Manor Community Members, 24 January 2019

“We must build on the foundation of our Previous Generations

Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr John Jeffery
Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Sihle Zikalala
MEC of Transport and community safety, Bheki Ntuli.
Speaker of eThekwini Municipality, Councillor Weziwe Thusi
Director General for the Department of Military Veterans, Ret. Lieutenant General Mgwebi
Officials of the department
Mayor Ilembe district municipality, mlalazi, kwadukuza,

The Family Members of our Heroes before us today, ngizwile ke zonke izinto ize raise yimindeni.
Distinguished Guests
All Officials

We come before you with a deep sense of humility and an even greater sense of indebtedness to this community.

As we return the mortal remains of the nine martyrs to their families, we reminded that the freedoms we enjoy today came at a fatal cost.

We honour the 9 men - Thembinkosi Schoolboy Mthembu, Fanozi Brian Mgubungu, Msayineke Daniel Khuzwayo, Sililo Joseph Miya, Payiyana Dladla, Mahemu Goqo, Maqandeni Lushozi, Thompson Chamane and Mhlawungeni Joe Khuzwayo - who were hanged after being accused of killing nine apartheid police officers on Sunday, 24 January 1960.

On the fateful day, there was a raid on the informal settlement by black and white apartheid police officers to enforce apartheid laws, including pass laws and liquor legislation.  The raid was one of several targeting the settlement over several months for a range of apartheid offences.

However, during the raid, police officers clashed with residents who were resisting what they deemed as 'ill-treatment'.

The police fired shots and one resident was shot dead. This enraged the community and they stoned and stabbed the police officers, who had retreated to two small rooms.  In that deadly confrontation, nine police officers were killed while nine managed to escape, although several were badly injured.

After taking in about 300 people for questioning, 31 one residents of Cato Manor were arrested and 29 persons charged with the murder of the policemen.

One died in prison before the trial began, one was discharged, and another had his trial separated due to illness.  Of the remaining 26, eight were acquitted, and eight were sent to prison. Ten trialists were sentenced to death, one of whom later managed to successfully appeal against his death sentence. The other appeals were dismissed, and the 9 men were hanged on 5 September 1961.

Their bodies were exhumed in December last year by the TRC Unit in the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Missing Persons Task Team of the National Prosecuting Authority.

Cato Manor has a decorated history in the struggle for liberation. The men that lay here now are a testimony to this fact.

Cato Manor has always been a sight of struggle, but it has also been the backbone of Durban’s development. In its history it was a great melting pot where different races came into frequent contact with each other in both their working and social lives, and a vibrant, hybrid culture evolved.

But it was not to last long. The introduction the Group Areas Act, set Cato Manor’s course with history in motion. In 1954, the Group Areas Board urged that Cato Manor be proclaimed as a White group area and the entire population of the area was uprooted and relocated.

Some of the people were moved to KwaMashu, Lamontville and Umlazi townships which were established only for black people. The Indian community was moved to Chatsworth. The Mayville and Cato Manor branches of the Natal Indian Congress assisted residents in resisting the removals, convening mass meetings and other forms of protest.
By 1958, Cato Manor was officially proclaimed a White area.

Just like in District Six in Cape Town, Sophia-Town in Johannesburg and South-End in Port Elizabeth, people of colour were plunged into instant poverty by forced removals. The consequence was immense suffering, huge loss of property and income effected by a stroke of a pen. In the final TRC Report, it talks about the destruction of communities in Cato Manor and other areas and says “again, in human terms, the consequence was immense suffering and huge losses of property and income”.

It is against this background that government’s land reform program is not only aimed to resolve agricultural land but to redress the apartheid spatial planning and enable municipalities to access well located land for the people to leave next to where they work. This must also come with an environmental design that makes it easy for the police to fight crime and other social ills.

A permanent exhibition of photographs at the KwaMuhle Museum documents the struggle history of Cato Manor. It is here the ill-conceived social engineering of apartheid began to take form in quite a literal sense. History records that a great deal of unrest enveloped Cato Manor during this period with the peak of the unrest being in 1959.

This unrest prompted the President General of African National Congress at the time, Chief Albert Luthuli, to issue a statement calling for calm in the area.

It is within this context wherein the Cato Manor 9 found themselves.  In the words of Sol Plaatjie, they became “pariahs in the land of birth” overnight.

Like many of our heroes these men lying before us today, were killed at the gallows in Pretoria. They were killed by an inhumane regime and so-called justice was dispensed in the form of the death penalty.

It has been proven that the death penalty does not deter crime and the consequences of capital punishment still linger in our communities today.
We are an intensely violent society, and we seem to have reconciled ourselves with idea that the only way we can resolve conflicts amongst ourselves is through violence. The effects of this are evident, and there for all of us to see. Violence begets violence.

Violence cannot be our default position to conflict resolution. It is us, as community members, who can begin to take our destiny and our future into our hands and begin to rid our communities of violence.

It is against this background that we must strive for peace and uproot violence whenever it raises its ugly head in our communities. We must preach peace, love and harmony in families and neighbourhoods, we must stand up against violence on women and children, we must say not in our name.

It has been 60 years since the death of these nine heroes and our country has seen 25 years of democracy.  We are still striving for equality, quality education and land restitution, as these are fundamental aspects for us to overcome poverty and inequality.  

As our first democratic president, Nelson Mandela, said:
“overcoming poverty is not gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.

It is for this reason that the Department of Justice administers an education fund for victims of apartheid who have been identified through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  

Through education assistance, our TRC unit has been able to help thousands of applicants - who have been  verified for victim status, or rightful next-of-kin in the case of deceased victims - under basic education and higher education and training. Between May and September last year, our Department also conducted awareness raising roadshows on education assistance reparations.

Ngizwile ke ukukhala kwe minindeni yonke kakhulukazi ngekweze fundo, Thapelo siybhekisise ke lendaba ukuthi labo abadeservayo basizwe.

We are also implementing community rehabilitation in affected communities and assisting with community projects. These processes above will bring us closer to the full implementation of TRC reparations – for we can never be fully free as a nation, if some of our people are still living in poverty.

On the day that Madiba received the final TRC Report he said:

We are extricating ourselves from a system that insulted our common humanity by dividing us from one another on the basis of race and setting us against each other as oppressed and oppressor. In doing so that system committed a crime against humanity, which shared humanity we celebrate today in a Constitution that entrenches human rights and values.”

To the families and loved ones of the nine men we are honouring today, take comfort in the knowledge that your sons contributed to the freedom we enjoy today. They did not die in vain – may their memories live on.