The Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (PASMA) took over the streets of Sharpeville on Monday in commemoration of Human Rights Day to honour the many who died for marching against pass laws in the township on 21 March 1960.
The Pass was a book that was created for black people by the apartheid government which would give them the right to find work in urban areas of the country. There were many uprisings in South Africa against the Pass Book and in Sharpeville on the day the police opened fire on an estimated 300 protesters which led to 69 deaths. A similar march took place in Langa Township near Cape Town.
On Monday in Sharpeville over 4000 Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) students went to the township’s graveyard to talk to the spirits of those who fell on the day.
Thereafter the students marched across the township to attend the main commemoration at the George Thebe stadium where they interrupted proceedings as they felt the African National Congress (ANC) has taken over the day and made it theirs.
“To us this day means commemorating all those who shared blood for the struggle of this country against the white oppressors,” says PASMA spokesperson Vusi Mahlangu.
The students feel that many young people are losing their history as such days are spent in celebration rather than reinforcing what led to them being commemorated. PASMA National Organiser, Small Zondo, believes that the PAC is not given the right platforms to reinforce the meaning of the day.
“We no longer have a programme in Sharpeville. Our history is the only thing that is written in blood,” Zondo mentioned in his speech on Monday.
After the speech he raised concerns about his party being sidelined by the ruling ANC. “We have been treated badly by the ruling party and that they are trying to erase the legacy of PAC. This is day is for all who contributed to the struggle of the country. This is not ANC human Rights Day.”
Over the past few years the PAC has lost much support in South Africa with one of its active leaders Patricia De Lille founding her own political party, the Independent Democrats.