Editor Bongani Hlatshwayo’s impressions on Freedom Day

Today is Freedom Day and marks exactly 30 years that South Africa has been under that South Africa has been under democratic rule, which, in essence, marked the emancipation of black people.

After being oppressed under the apartheid rule and being downtrodden since 1652 when settler, Jan van Rebieck, landed on our shores. The original inhabitants were reduced to fourth class citizens in the country of their birth for more than 350 years. On the 27th April 1994, it was the first time that the black majority in the country to be registered as voters. We voted for the first democratic government in South Africa, marking the first time that the African National Congress (ANC) came into power and has been the ruling party for six consecutive terms.

It was during their six-term as the ruling party, that a number of transformations were undertaken to firstly dismantle discriminatory laws that have foreseen the reintegration of society over the years. This period realised the free movement of people from rural areas to urban areas under the infamous Section 10.1A, under which if found in urban areas without that stamp, you were summarily arrested and kept for three months in jail for such an offence.

Curfews were the order of the day as night time in the cities and towns around the country were meant for the freedom of white citizens only because blacks were nothing, but labourers in their country of birth. Over the past 30 years, society changed tremendously as equal rights were bestowed upon every citizen in all spheres of life. Also which eradicated the Group Areas Act and people were able to reside anywhere in the country. We were able to enrol children at any school and tertiary institution, whereby, they were at liberty to study professions of their choice other than being mainly confined to teaching, nursing and the police force, among others.

Many wrongs have also taken place during this period in terms of governance and leading to widespread corruption. However, it’s not as surmountable as the more than 350 years of oppression under apartheid rule. As 2024 marks 30 years of freedom and coincides with our 30-year celebration, and incidentally is an election year, the electorate must not be deviated by enemies of black rule, but freedom of choice should prevail for the furtherance of democracy in our land. Let freedom reign!

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