Thursday, 16 June 2022 will mark 46 years since the 1976 Soweto youth-led uprisings when police opened fire on protesting students, killing and injuring hundreds. Since the end of apartheid, poor communities, workers, and young people have continued to suffer state and political violence meted out to stifle both dissent and legitimate concerns.
This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the Marikana massacre for which no one has been held accountable. The events at Marikana left 44 people dead, and of the mineworkers killed 18 were 35‑years old or younger. Over the years, the Abahlali baseMjondolo movement has also lost at least eight young people to state and political violence. In 2021, excessive use of force against student protestors culminated in the killing of 35-year old Mthokozisi Ntumba, a bystander.
To commemorate Youth Day and reflect on these issues, Abahlali baseMjondolo, family members of the mineworkers killed at Marikana and SERI have partnered to host two activities aimed at drawing attention to the scourge of state and political violence.
On 16 June, we will host a workshop entitled, ‘Struggle & Memory: Writing our own stories’ at which Dr. Julian Brown will present and facilitate a discussion on his new book, ‘Marikana: A People’s History’ as well as Abahlali baseMjondolo’s experiences of state violence. The workshop will further unpack the importance of people and communities writing their own stories and owning the narratives of their struggle that accurately reflect their experiences and present their perspectives.
On 17 June, at 08:00, Abahlali baseMjondolo will lead a picket at the City Hall and at the South African Human Rights Commission in Durban to demand justice for the unwarranted killing of youth in South Africa by the police. The picket seeks to highlight that there has been no accountability for any of the abuses by the police at Marikana, at various student protests, and against social movements and community-based organisations like Abahlali baseMjondolo who continue to lose activists. Such violence has unfortunately become the norm because of failures to hold perpetrators to account.
SERI and Abahlali baseMjondolo commemorate this Youth Day in remembrance of the fearless young people who have lost their lives in the struggle against past and present oppression.