Series NMAP 2023/01 - Labuschagne Family Collection

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Reference code

ZA COM NMAP 2023/01


Labuschagne Family Collection


  • 1993 (Accumulation)

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The journey which brought the Nelson Mandela Foundation into conversation with Lourens and Lorato Labuschagne really started back in 2019, when at a public protest in different parts of the country people displayed the old apartheid South African flag. This kind of thing had happened before, and we decided enough. We applied to the Equality Court to make a ruling that gratuitous displays of the flag constituted a form of hate speech.
Hate speech in all its forms and its manifestations is killing our country. We must keep fighting it. And at the same time we must keep looking for spaces which are safe enough for people who need healing to enter and explore possibilities together.
It was in the early stages of the litigation that Lourens and Lorato Labuschagne reached out to us. They shared their story with the old apartheid flag and asked us to engage with them. Lourens’ father Warrant Officer Abraham Lappies Labuschagne had been a decorated member of the South African Police. In 1993 he died while attempting to defuse a bomb planted in a Bronkhorstspruit shopping centre.
Under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s negotiation process brought the country to its first democratic election in 1994. In the lead-up to the election, many formations were intent on either disrupting or stopping the election altogether. One tactic used by white rightwingers was to bomb shopping centres catering for people of colour and Black South Africans. Lappies Labuschagne gave his life while assisting civilians to evacuate and inspect the premises where one such bomb had been planted. His sacrifice was one of many which made the birth of a democratic South Africa possible.
The old apartheid flag which had covered the coffin of Lappies at his funeral came into the possession of Lourens. His wife, a Black South African, was deeply uncomfortable about having the flag in their home.
After extended engagement with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, a ritual handing over of the flag to the Foundation, together with other memorabilia related to Lappies, took place at a public event at the Foundation. In return the Foundation gave to Lourens and Lorato a new democratic South African flag with a tribute to Lappies’ sacrifice.
The Equality Court determined that gratuitous displays of the old flag constitute a form of hate speech. AfriForum appealed against the ruling, and at the time of writing the matter is ongoing. The Foundation became a friend of the court in two other pieces of litigation which threatened to have an impact on the appeal against the Equality Court ruling.
The men who planted the bomb which killed Lappies Labuschagne successfully applied for amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Lourens and Lorato are currently in conversation with the Foundation on the possibility of a mediated meeting with the bombers.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Lourens Labuschagne

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Lappies Labuschagne gave his life while assisting civilians to evacuate and inspect the premises where a bomb had been planted. The old apartheid flag which had covered the coffin of Lappies at his funeral was given to the family. On the 23rd of June 2022, the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory hosted a handover ceremony and a dialogue Oppressive Pasts & Healing: From Othering to Belonging. During this ceremony, Lourens and Lorato Labuschagne donated the flag to the Nelson Mandela Foundation in exchange for the new South African flag. This was handed to them by the minister of justice and correctional services, Ronald Lamola at the event. Included with the apartheid flag were three honorary medals bestowed on Lappies. Subsequentlye, digital copies of newspaper clippings and condolence letters were also donated mostly written in Afrikaans and a few in English.

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  • Afrikaans
  • English

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Newspaper clippings and letters are with Lourens Labuschagne

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