Press release by Khotso Seatlholo, chairman of the Soweto Students’ Representative Council, 29 October 1976

Press release by Khotso Seatlholo, chairman of the Soweto Students' Representative Council, October 29,1976

There are a few points which, on behalf of the Black youth and students of South Africa, I wish to make clear--what we think about them, and what our stand is.

It is a pity that I speak at a time when there is no happiness in the Black community; at the crucial moment when the whole country is plunged into a period of unrest and bloodshed. This is the time when the whole of Black Azania has gone into mourning for their dead sons and daughters who have been killed by White police gangsters. Yet, at this serious moment when Rome has gone up in flames, the Hon. Chief Kaiser Matanzima and other stooges of the South African Government, have decided to go feasting with meat and wine while their Black brothers are being shot and killed at their grave yard.

I wish to start with the most recent event, which is:

TRANSKEI INDEPENDENCE: 26th Oct, 1976

The Black youth of Azania totally reject the whole idea of the independence of the Transkei; and that of any Homeland. We see this as the final product of the policy of Separate Development, and the culmination of a political fraud. We see Chief Matanzima as being seduced by the White racist Government to fall for the political joke of the year. We regard him as a betrayer of Black peoples political aspirations by selling out our birthright to the White minority Government.

We reject the policy of Separate Development in toto. We are opposed to the fragmentation of our Mother-land into some ethnic political entities that are neither politically nor economically viable. We see this policy as the basis for the creation of tribal colonies that would still remain in all aspects dependent on the main colonial power, the so-called White South Africa. Our fear is that this might be the creation of rivalries that might end up in the creation of another "Biafra" tribal conflict in South Africa.

Besides, we are simply opposed to the division of the Black nation into some ethnic sovereign states. We see this as the breaking of Black solidarity and power. We see it as the "divide and rule" method designed to subjugate Black people politically and otherwise. Blacks in the Homelands shall, forever, remain subservient to the White Government; and they will be used as tools for cheap labour in order to maintain the White man's economic power and political domination.

We take the acceptance of the policy of Separate Development by the so-called Homeland leaders as shameful give-in and a betrayal of the Black struggle for the achievement of political freedom and economic independence. We see the step that Matanzima has taken as a grave act of political blunder that we, the youth of today and even those of the coming generation shall never forgive him.

We thus do not recognize the Transkei Independence as meaning anything to us and the Black people as a whole. To us, Azania belongs to us in whole. It is our land. It is our birthright. All the wealth of Azania belongs to all its citizens irrespective of ethnic group, race or colour of the skin. We have an inalienable right to live and die on this land. We shall not accept any policy that is designed to rob us of our birthright.

Therefore, we see the Hon. Chief Matanzima, the so-called Prime Minister of the Transkei, and the rest of the Homeland leaders as political cowards, stooges and puppets who could not hold their own in the fight and defence of their birthright.

They are sell-outs who were just too ready to capitulate to the oppressor and collaborate with the exploitative, oppressive and suppressive system. They shall go down into annals of Black history as Judas Iscariots who sold the Black nation down a political drain. The blood of our brothers and sisters who died in the struggle for the liberation of Blacks shall be on their heads until eternity. We shall carry on with the fight for our freedom and ultimate peace in this country.

PRESENT UNRESTS

Many people, including the Vorster Government, [Minister of Justice] Jimmy Kruger's police and some fascist Government's secret agents, have attributed the present unrests in Soweto and all over the country, to the ANC, PAC or some subversive Communist organisations. Some Government officials have even had the guts to point a finger at the Black Consciousness movements who have to date operated overboard in broad day light. If this be true that the above organisations are the cause of upheavals, then we take off our hats for the South African Security force. They seem to be efficiently inefficient in their detective work. They deserve a Noble Price for being too fast to accuse, and faster to find a scapegoat.

We tried to locate symptoms of the above revolutionary organisations, we failed. We worked hard to unearth the communist agitators who caused so much loss of life and bloodshed in our peaceful Black community, we found none. Then our main task was to find the real cause of the unrest and riots all over the country. We found it. It was glaring right into our face--it was the WHITE FASCIST MINORITY GOVERNMENT OF JOHN VORSTER and his gang of pro-nazi Ministers.

It is a pity that Mr Kruger and his security police could not see this monstrous beam in his regime's eye and racial policies. When we were born, we found our fathers struggling under the yoke of oppression. We found ourselves ushered into a socio-economic and political situation which was neither of our father's nor of our making. Black people have never been consulted in the making of laws that are today oppressing us; and have made South Africa the stink-cat (meerkat) of the world. We cannot afford to be ostracised from the world community because of no fault of our own. We strongly reject the subservient heritage that our fathers have handed down to us. Our fathers stood up to speak and fight for their rights, they were given Robben Island as eternal place of residence. Their peaceful pleas were answered with ruthless violent acts of suppression, and they lived on as a politically crippled nation.

We came. We saw. We judged and ACTED or REACTED to the whole system of oppression discriminatory racist laws. We refuse to bend down that the White man can ride on our back. We have the full right to stand up erect and reject the whole system of apartheid. We cannot accept it, as our fathers did. We are neither carbon nor duplicate copies of our fathers. Where they failed, we shall succeed. The mistakes they made shall never be repeated. They carried the struggle up to where they could. We are very grateful to them. But now, the struggle is ours. The ball of liberation is in our hands.

The Black student shall, fearlessly, stand up and take arms against a political system which is stinking with immoral policies that we have found distasteful and unacceptable to us. We shall rise up and destroy a political

ideology that is designed to keep us in a perpetual state of oppression and subserviency. We shall oppose the economic system that is keeping us in non-ending state of poverty. We shall not stand a social system of discrimination that has become an insult to our human dignity. We shall reject the whole system of Bantu Education whose aim is to reduce us, mentally and physically, into "hewers of wood and drawers of water" for the White racist Masters. Our whole "being" rebels against the whole South African system of existence, the system of apartheid that is killing us psychologically and physically. The type of education we receive is like poison that is destroying our minds.

It is reducing us into intellectual cripples that cannot take seat within the World community of academics. It is killing inherent sense of creation in us and thus, it is frustrating us.

Twenty years ago, when Bantu Education was introduced, our fathers said: "half a loaf is better than no loaf." But we say:" half a Gram of poison, is just as killing as the whole gram." Thus we strongly refuse to swallow this type of Education that is designed to make us slaves in the country of our birth.

The Afrikaans question that made us to stand together, as students, in one Solidarity to voice our grievances, was just but "Achilles heel" in the whole system of Bantu Education. The enforcement of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction was the last straw on the camel's back.

We wish to remind the government that it was the extra charge of a tickey (3d) that broke the British Empire (Boston Tea Party). In the same manner, through the rejection of Afrikaans we are prepared to break the spine of the whole immoral White Apartheid Empire. Morality and the World is on our side. Black Students are determined to die for the Fatherland, the land of AZANIA. The White fascist regime shall be blamed for all the blood shed and misery that shall take place in this country. The main causes of the present unrests are:

(1) The White racist government's discriminatory racial policies. They have caused unbearable suffering to many Blacks socially, economically and politically.

(2) The White man's arrogance in their refusal to listen to Black man's grievances; and their unpreparedness to consult with Blacks in the making of laws that govern the country.

(3) Lack of contact and communication between Black and White at local and National levels because of the Apartheid policy.

(4) The White man's avarice and readiness to amass all the economic wealth in the country and keep Black races in a perpetual state of destitute and poverty. We cannot live on charity and patronisation by Whites.

(5) The undermining of the Students' Power and their determination to free themselves from the oppressive system of education and Government.

If Mr Vorster, Jimmy Kruger, [Bantu Education Department official, W. C.I Ackermann and all their gangsters had paid attention to our cry and warnings by our parents and Black leaders, there would never have been any riots in the country. Instead, they became stubborn. They used ruthless methods of oppression. They arrested, detained, imprisoned or banned nearly all our political and even Cultural leaders. They drove us like dumb cattle to jails. They thought they had solved the problem. What a mistake! Anyway, those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make them mad. The White government is on the brink of insanity. Our task is how to save them, and thus save the whole of South Africa--the land of AZANIA.

RIOTS, STRIKERS AND SHOOTINGS

(1) When Adolf Hitler's Nazi Government liquidated the Jews in the "Final Solution," the whole world rose up in arms to crush the Nazis because lives of a White race were in jeopardy.

(2) When Idi Amin threatened to take the life of Mr [Denis] Hills in Uganda, the whole World raised a furious cry because a White skin was in danger.

(3) When a White Doctor was killed during the Soweto riots on June l6th 1976 the White press, local and overseas, played the murder for weeks on end because White blood had been shed.

(4) The destruction of West Rand Board's and government property:

Beerhalls, Bottle Stores and the bombing of the Jabulani Police Station, received more publicity and emphasis because the White man's property had been destroyed.

The World abhored Hitler's atrocities, the cruelty of Idi Amin and the heartlessness of students in the killing of just one White doctor and the wanton destruction of symbols of White oppression.

But, when Jimmy Kruger's White terrorists shot down the innocent, defenceless school children in a peaceful demonstration when they killed our colleagues in the streets, on the football grounds in the school yards, classrooms and even in the grave yards, the whole World goes silent because the 10 year old child was throwing stones at the well-armed white police; and the police had no alternative but to shoot in self-defence (?).

The police who were attacked by the Black mob with some stones and brick missiles, have such strong hippo skins that these stones had to bounce back like rubber balls without leaving any wounds.

Still, it was the Black child that was shot down. It was the Black skin that was destroyed. It was the Black life that was taken in defence and protection of the burning car, the beer hall or bottle store that went up in flames. It is nothing!

It was all done in self-defence--In defence of a system that does not value human life, especially if that life is Black.

It was in the defence of the White racist system and policies that have turned the land of AZANIA into a blood bath. These incidents show a clash of sense of values between the Black and White races of South Africa.

For the last four months of unrests in Soweto and other areas, apart from the destruction of the White man's property in the Black man's ghetto, Blacks have neither killed nor harmed any Whites. We took our demonstration right into the heart of Johannesburg City, we shed no White blood. We proved our degree of discipline, dignity and value of human life whether it be Black or White.

If there were any casualties, they were very minor. But, the White South African Police have shot and killed hundreds of my Black brothers and sisters; they shot, wounded and maimed thousands of Black school children and adults; their prison cells are teeming with hundred thousands of Black students and leaders detained or imprisoned for having dared to oppose the Monster-Policy of Apartheid.

Black students have never taken any human life; but White police have triumphed in assault and murder of harmless kids. This is a proof to us Blacks that Whites value material property more than human life. They are materialists--a godless race that find pleasure in the violation of human or Christian values. They are sadists who derive satisfaction in the shedding of human blood. They are worse than Communists.

We organise a peaceful march protest against the use of Afrikaans in our schools, they levelled guns at us and shot us down. We called upon a non-violent peaceful stay-at-home strike, they mobilised Black hostel inmates to club us to death and smash our houses and furniture. They set Black to kill Black. We neither begrudge nor feel any bitterness against our poor Black brothers in the hostels. We know it that they have been mentally raped, seduced and corrupted by the Police agitators of Jimmy Kruger. We forgive them.

We held the within-campus protest against the visit of [American Secretary of State] Dr Henry Kissinger to South Africa, then [they] shot and killed our brothers in the school yards. They slaughtered six students plus a Black housewife who was hanging washing in her yard for the reception of Dr Kissinger. And, the so-called American peace-maker never uttered a word of protest at this atrocity and bloodshed.

We carried our dead, whom they killed in the streets or prison cells, to bury, they opened fire at us at the grave-yard--killing further more seven including one of our most respectable Funeral undertakers, Mr Sydney Kgaye. They desacreded the dead without even a sense of shame or remorse. We cannot even bury our dead brothers without fear of arrest or death. Shall we leave them to rot in the streets like dogs, cats or rats?

Our fathers know what the White man has done for them. They know the good things that Whites did for them. The White man gave them jobs, banzela money [small bonuses], second hand clothes--and he did them many other favours. Our fathers may forgive Whites. But, there is only one thing that I, as a Black student and Youth of this country, know. That is: the White police shot and drove a bullet through the head and brain of my 10-year-old brother. That the White police shot and killed hundreds of my colleagues; that they shot, wounded and maimed my father, mother, brother and sister at the graveyard; that they terrorise the streets of my ghetto and I can find no peace to rest my head.

This is what I know of the White man; and I cannot forgive him. I smelled


References:
• Karis, T.G & Gerhart, G. M (eds)(1997). From Protest to Challenge: A Documentary history of African politics in South Africa, 1882-1990, Volume 5: Nadir and Resurgence,1964-1979, Pretoria: Unisa.

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