Item 261 - Notes for speech by President Nelson Mandela at the funeral of the victims of the isithebe shootings

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Notes for speech by President Nelson Mandela at the funeral of the victims of the isithebe shootings


  • 1995-05-20 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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ANC Website

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Funeral for the victims of the Isithebe shootings

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  • English

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Members of the Bereaved Families;
Members of the Parliament of KwaZulu Natal;
Members of the Provincial Cabinet;
Mourners and Compatriots.

1. Violence robs us of life and freedom

When I cast my vote at Inanda last year I could not have imagined that a year later I would still be attending mass funerals of victims of violence. We were heralding a new era of peace and freedom.
But our being together here today is a stark reminder that there are still those in our midst who are bent on perpetrating the crimes of the past. As long as they continue to roam the streets, our freedom will remain incomplete.
This cannot be allowed to continue. The time for words has passed. The time for firm action has come. And I should warm all those who continue with violence; we shall not compromise in our resolve to save lives. I have been briefed about the progress of the investigation; and I am convinced that it will not be long before the killers are found. They will be punished to the full extent of the law.

2. A strategy to undermine democracy

The murder of the nine compatriots we are burying today, together with two others who died under similar circumstances, was neither a mistake nor unexpected. It is part of a well-calculated strategy to undermine the democratic government and the confidence that you have in it.
Tomorrow I shall be visiting the Port Shepstone area under Inkosi Xolo, where five innocent civilians were murdered earlier this week, forcing scores of villagers to flee their homes.
3. Dangerous calls by political leaders

I say these crimes were not unexpected. We have been threatened repeatedly that if we don't yield to the demand for international mediation violence would escalate. The government and people of this province have been called on to rise and resist the democratically elected central government of our country.
That call was immediately followed by an escalation of such crimes. Despite claims by those leaders that they were calling for peaceful action, to make such calls in the midst of the political violence and tension of this province, is extremely irresponsible. They have failed to express their strong disapproval of such actions when addressing their followers.

4. Public funds and the Constitution

The province of KwaZulu-Natal receives a budget for the transformation of this province in accordance with the policies of the Government of National Unity and the provisions of the constitution. To call on the provincial government to rise and resist the central government, is to mobilise for action which would mean tax-payers money being used to undermine the constitution.
I am duty-bound to do all I can, to ensure that such financial abuse does not occur. If it did occur, it would require action to ensure the constitution is adhered to. The Provincial government could not be given funds to abuse in that way. National government would have to find other ways of delivering services to the people.
The protection of human lives is a fundamental duty of every democratic government. One cannot talk of constitutional order as if it was something separate from the value of human life.
The continued mass murder of our people should cause us all to search in our hearts. If ever the constitution did not protect the fundamental right to life and free and fair local government elections, then all of us would have to work together to improve it.

5. Decisive action to deal with violence

Minister Mufamadi told you last week that the government is determined to bring the perpetrators of this crime to book. That is the resolve of the Government of National Unity. But the police cannot catch these murderers without your help.
Our resolve extends to wherever violent crime is denying people the safety and security which is their right. Irrespective of what party the perpetrators of violence say they belong to, we will act against them. No matter what province violence occurs, whether it be KwaZulu-Natal, or Gauteng, or the Eastern Cape, we are taking firm action.
Accordingly, the government has embarked on the Community Safety Plan. This has meant the deployment of extra security personnel in the areas most affected by violence. These officers are here to protect you. For them to succeed, they also depend on your unconditional co-operation.

6. Co-operation by political parties

Let us make sure that the nine compatriots did not die in vain. Their death brings the issue of the KwaZulu-Natal killing fields even higher on the government agenda. Everyone agrees now that the situation here is abnormal and that the government must act immediately and decisively. And that is what we are determined to do.
I call on all political parties to join with me and the Government of National Unity in dealing with the violence. Since 1984 over 20,000 South Africans have died in political violence, the majority in this province. Let us work together to ensure that the lives of men, women, children and the aged are no longer lost in this senseless slaughter.

7. Co-operation to improve lives

As government, we are determined that freedom should mean peace for all, security, running water, schools, clinics, land for crops and grazing, housing. Like all other South Africans, the people of Isithebe deserve all these things. You deserve a better life.
In honour of the patriots we are burying today, I want to firmly state that no stone will be left unturned to bring the killers to book. No one will be allowed to stand in the way of peace. The time to act in defence of life itself is now.
On behalf of the people of South Africa, the Government of National Unity, the ANC, and on my own behalf, may I extend to the bereaved families our heartfelt condolences for the loss of your loved ones.
I will not be long before the killing fields are turned into green plantations.

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: ANC Website. Accessioned on 15/11/06 by Helen Joannides




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