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IT was a joyous moment for learners, educators and parents when Executive Mayor Parks Tau opened a multipurpose sports complex at Naledi High School in Soweto on the morning of 16 June.

16 June sees the opening of a sports centre at Naledi High School16 June sees the opening of a sports centre at Naledi High SchoolSo delighted were they, that they continually burst into celebratory song, thanking the mayor and his team for making their dream a reality.
Tau, flanked by his predecessor, Amos Masondo, and members of the mayoral committee, was on a tour in Soweto to places that hold historical significance of the June 16, 1976 Soweto uprising.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Tau said the facility was a sign of commitment to youth empowerment. “This will go a long way in nurturing the talent of young people growing up in this community. We believe that athletes, footballers, cricketers and rugby players will be produced from this facility.”

Soweto represented a post-apartheid South African township, where access to opportunities was not limited to any child. Education not only ended in the classroom, he added, but sport also played a fundamental role in grooming a crop of responsible young people.

The R9-million establishment, funded through the City’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), consists of a soccer field, an athletics track, a cricket pitch, basketball and tennis courts, and long and high jump facilities. It also has ablutions.

The project was identified by Masondo during his term as mayor, because of the historic significance of the school. It is one of the 1976 heritage schools; its students were among those who planned the 1976 Soweto uprising against the inferior Bantu education.

The other heritage schools are Meadowlands, Morris Isaacson, Mmusi, Sekanantwana, Madibane, Orlando East and Orlando West.

The principal, Kenny Mavutulana, could not help but express his excitement. “We are greatly honoured to be recognised today,” he said. “I want to thank the mayor for this wonderful sports facility. We are going to ensure that we put it to good use.”

From Naledi High School, the mayor lead the delegation to Silverton, in Diepkloof, for a sod-turning ceremony at the new memorial site along the busy Jack Klipin Street.

Remembering the events of 16 June 35 years agoRemembering the events of 16 June 35 years agoThe memorial is in honour of three men, known as the Silverton Trio, who were shot by the apartheid police in 1980. They were members of the African National Congress’s military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK).
The three were Fanny Mafoko, Wilfred Madela and Humphrey Makhubu.

Delivering a keynote address, Tau said: “It is only right to continually recognise those who selflessly laid down their lives to free us from the chains of apartheid. We are committed to continue assisting in every way possible to make this project a reality.”

Family members were thanked and honoured on behalf of the fallen struggle heroes.

Noni Mafoko, a daughter of Mafoko, said: “I am humbled by the recognition that my father and other heroes got from the City of Johannesburg. This shows that they appreciate their role and that makes me happy.”

Makhulo Ledwaba from the Diepkloof Heritage Trust said: “It is important to remember those unsung heroes who played a pivotal role in the liberation of this country.”

The memorial was expected to be officially unveiled in 2012, he said, thanking the Johannesburg Property Company and City Parks for their commitment in ensuring that the project was a success.

Pieterson memorial
Tau and his delegation later joined the premier of Gauteng, Nomvula Mokonyane, at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Orlando. Here, scores of learners dressed in their school uniforms were chanting freedom songs while the adults relaxed in the sun, having braais, waiting for the officials to speak.
Mokonyane and Tau laid a wreath to commemorate the youth who died in 1976.

“The June 16, 1976 events will forever immortalise the role and contribution of the youth in the struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa. Today, we commemorate the 35th anniversary of the historic uprising as well as hope for the triumph that it brought with it,” said Mokonyane.

She also acknowledged the challenges faced by the youth of today. “We gained democracy but we are still faced with the greatest challenges of young people who go to bed without a meal, a girl child who is constantly subjected to violation, a man who walks the street daily in search of work and a farm worker who is forever abused, evicted and assaulted.”

In line with the theme of youth day, “Youth action for economic freedom in our lifetime,” Mokonyane said economic emancipation was key to youth empowerment. “We have prioritised the issue of youth training in areas of artisan, agro-processing, tool making, jewellery design and other skills training.”

Echoing her sentiments, the chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency’s Gauteng Provincial Advisory Board, Simon Molefe, said: “The future lies in your hands. The youth of 1976 fought for what they believed in; we must make economic freedom in our lifetime a reality.”

President Jacob Zuma arrives at Orlando StadiumPresident Jacob Zuma arrives at Orlando StadiumThe agency was working tirelessly to deliver service to the youth. “Our mandate is youth development and we must champion that. In the near future we want to see big youth-owned enterprises emerging in Soweto.”
Molefe said education was the foundation to economic freedom. “You are the only people who can make it happen. Make school your priority.”

Orlando Stadium
The officials then made their way to the main Youth Day event at Orlando Stadium, a stone’s throw from the Hector Pieterson Memorial. They were greeted by a packed stadium, with people waiting to be addressed by President Jacob Zuma.

Despite the president arriving late, the crowd enjoyed dancing to the music of local artists, who kept them entertained.

In another event, the June 16 Foundation together with the Tsietsi Mashinini Trust, participated in a march from Regina Mundi Catholic Church to Avalon Cemetery for the unveiling of tombstones for two 1976 student heroes, Mashinini and Kgotso Seathlolo.

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