Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas has urged residents not to trample on the legacy of the Colesberg Four but rather honour them for their sacrifices.
Lucas was speaking during the unveiling of a memorial for the Colesberg Four in the Umsobomvu municipality last week.
The four young people who were killed are Funeka Siyonazana, Krakra Maciki, Mongezi Juda and James Marumo. The age of the young leaders ranged from 17 to 23 years old.
They were killed by the apartheid police during a protest over service delivery at Kuyasana township in Colesberg in 1983.
The premier said it was the responsibility of each and every South African from all walks of life to respect and acknowledge the past, celebrate the present and build the future together.
“Despite all these crimes against humanity, great men and women rose with courage and conviction to fight not only an unjust system but to liberate all of us and free us from the shackles of apartheid,” Lucas said.
She said the four young people who paid the highest price to ensure that the province and the country as a whole were free needed to be honoured and recognised as unsung heroes of the nation.
“We want to salute them as well as all the others who sacrificed their lives, not in vain but for us to enjoy the fruits of democracy and strive towards building a prosperous South Africa.”
Lucas was accompanied by MECs, government officials, Umsobomvu mayor Simon Toto and members of the community.
Lucas further said it was important that community members never forget and lose sight of the country’s history.
“We need to be torch bearers of telling our history, good or bad. This will indeed assist us in moving this country forward.”
She said the dreadful event of 1983 should unite the province towards social cohesion.
“It is by building, brick by brick, the Northern Cape of tomorrow that truly belongs to everyone.
“This initiative is also to recognise and celebrate our unsung heroes who played a pivotal role in the development of our country.”
The provincial department of sports, arts and culture said the Colesberg Four uprising was a series of protests against poor service delivery which ultimately led to the formation of a youth organisation in July 1983.
The gravesites of the Colesberg Four have been declared a national monument by the South African Heritage Resource Agency.