COMMEMORATING 30 YEARS OF THE BOIPATONG MASSACRE
By Puleng Maphisa 08 July 2022
On 17 June 2022 the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) and the Department of Sports, Art, Culture and Recreation held a joint event to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Boipatong Massacre.
The event was held in memory of a tragedy that occurred on the same day in 1992 at Joe Slovo informal settlement in Boipatong. Many families lost loved ones during the incident. For the Msibi family, a mother, two sons and a daughter were brutally killed.
The first session of the commemoration took place at the Vuka Cemetery in Sharpville, where the survivors and families of the 45 deceased paid tributes by offering prayers during the wreath-laying ceremony.
Massacre survivor, Sepati Mbatha, shared a tragic story of how her mother, father and a 4-year-old died. She said she was sleeping that day, but her mother woke her up, unsure whether her mother and father were outside. When she realised that her parents were outside, she tried to follow them only to find her mother, who was carrying a 4-year child, lying in the pool of blood.
“I had to quit school to support my younger brothers. I had to play a parental role to my brother’s end ended my school career only in standard 6 (grade 8). That doesn’t sit well with me as I had to earn a living as a domestic worker,” said Seipati with teary eyes.
Expressing sympathy, Ms Mbali Hlope, Gauteng MEC of Sports, Art, Culture and Recreation, said, “Today we are celebrating the 30-year anniversary of the massacre. I stand here today as the youngest member of the executive. Our young people must carry on where our elders have left off. The struggle for the voice of young people did not come easy. Young people stood up and marched to raise their voice and have a better future”.
She said “the youth has been crying that government doesn’t take care of them, but today their cries have been heard and processes are being put in place to assist the youth. It is time for people to work together to close the gap between the government and its people”, she said.
She promised that there will be economic development in the townships in honour of the blood shed by the brothers and sisters who died for freedom in our country, as well as awaken Boipatong’s heritage roots; just like Vilakazi Streets in Soweto. The MEC said her department would name specific spaces after the fallen heroes and erect statues ‘of our African heroes’ in their honour.
In his closing remarks, Mr Joseph Radebe (acting Director VUT Community Engagement department) thanked the Boipatong community for participating in the dialogue and promised that the Commemoration would be adopted by VUT as an annual event.