National Heritage celebrations were kick started with Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Joe Phaahla visiting the family of the late Evelyn du Bruin, one of a group which came to be known as the Upington 26, and the only woman on death row.
The Upington 26 were arrested in 1985 at
Fourteen people were found guilty and given the death penalty, however this was revoked in 1992.
President Kgalema Motlanthe addressed crowds gathered at the Dannie Kuys Stadium in Upington.
Songs that invoke painful memories were sung while emotional family members and activists gathered at the Upington 26 monument to lay wreaths for their fallen comrades.
This years Heritage Day celebrations were celebrated under the theme 'celebrating the heroes and heroines of the struggle.
Motlhanthe, who addressed the small crowd, called for social cohesion and cultural tolerance.
“No culture in
Motlanthe also used this opportunity to lambast corrupt leaders who steal resources meant for the poor.
“All of us should join hands to nip corruption in the bud,” says Motlanthe.
He says that corruption undermines the ability of the state to provide services to its people.
“Resources that are meant to improve conditions and lives of our people are diverted by the few, well-positioned individuals to feed their insatiable greed,” he added.
One of the Upington 26 activists, Xolile Yona, echoed the Motlhanthe's sentiments.
“The Freedom Charter says that there shall be law but what I see now is that we disobey the law. The people in leadership fight for each other, which is not what we want to see,” she says.
Motlhanthe says poverty, inequality and unemployment remain society’s biggest enemies.
He has called upon leaders in the private sector to partner with government in addressing these social ills.