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Dressed in their old school uniforms to mark Youth Day, staff members at emergency management services remembered the sacrifices of others for freedom.
THE offices of Joburg’s emergency management services (EMS) in Martindale turned into a high school on Wednesday, 15 June when staff members pitched up for work dressed in their old school uniforms to celebrate Youth Day.


Nthabiseng in her school uniformEMS acting deputy director Nthabiseng Mogane in her school uniformThe day is observed on 16 June every year to honour all the young people who lost their lives in the struggle against apartheid and Bantu education during the 1976 uprising.

The staff members, who were in high spirits, recounted stories of heroism and how the uprising shaped their lives.

Jacqueline Dire, a 42-year-old payroll officer, said Youth Day reminded her of the students who had acted bravely and selflessly in their struggle against apartheid. “I am extremely proud of what they did for us,” she said.

She had barely started her primary school education when the protests began. She stayed right next door to Morris Isaacson School, where the students gathered before setting off on a march through Soweto.

She still harbours memories of the teargas, helicopters circulating in the sky and policemen moving from house to house in search of activists.

Siphokazi Nondzasa, an administration assistant, said the uprising helped to create better opportunities for black people.

“Nowadays the situation is better because people are getting the same level of education,” said Nondzasa. “We never thought the day would come when black people would be nominated for leadership positions.”

Nthabiseng Mogane, the acting deputy director, said Youth Day helped young people understand that human resilience and selflessness may still survive under terrible circumstances.

“Their extraordinary courage leaves us profoundly humble and reminds us of the lasting differences that can be made to other people’s lives,” said Mogane.

National commemorations of Youth Day will take place at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Thursday, where President Jacob Zuma is expected to deliver a keynote speech.

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