President Jacob Zuma said black people might have been freed from the apartheid regime, but they are still economically enslaved.
“I don’t carry a pass, I’m now free, I can sell along the streets without being harassed by police, I’m free. It’s all true, but it’s not complete,” Zuma said.
Zuma was speaking on Tuesday at the Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre after laying a wreath for the slain anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko who died on this day in police custody 40 years ago.
Zuma was accompanied by Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha, Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa, and Minister of Defence and Military veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Biko, the leader of the Black Consciousness Movement, died in custody as a result of police brutality on 12 September 1977.
Zuma said people should question what is free and define it first and fight for it.
“If you don’t have economic power, you have the political power, you don’t have the land where you can build the economy…Don’t make a mistake and say it’s done, not yet.
“If you are in Johannesburg there are informal settlements and only one colour of skin comes out of those informal settlements. If you are in the centre of the city, it’s a different situation. We still live in two worlds in one,” he said.
He said the words and work of Biko remained incomplete and the struggle is not yet over if some people are still sleeping under a bridge.
“If you are black and think that everything has been done and you have an attitude, you are the type of person that Biko explained, you have accepted that you are inferior.”
He emphasised that it is important to remember Biko’s teachings, philosophy and his efforts of fighting the apartheid regime.
“Those who are proud of who they are, they must pick up where Steve Biko left and continue, so that every South African will be liberated.”
The presidency said that the government continued to honour the memory and legacy of Biko.
“Government dedicated this year’s National Human Rights Day commemoration on 21 March 2017 to Steve Biko, acknowledging his contribution to the struggle for liberation and human rights for all in the country. The national commemoration was held in King William’s Town and President Zuma unveiled the Biko grave site and memorial,” said the presidency in a statement on Monday.
The government, through the Department of Arts and Culture, provided R130-million to the Steve Biko Foundation to develop the Steve Biko Centre, a national legacy project based in Ginsberg Township in the Eastern Cape.