Dear Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola,
I felt compelled to write this letter as soon as possible given (late in publication) developments in the cabinet announcement by the incumbent state president Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa. I therefore write to you as the new Head of the Country’s justice system.
The letter speaks to two main issues, of which I am of firm belief that they grossly resonate with your political views and morals; the fight for the emancipation of all South Africans, both black and white. But let’s be clear, given the historical events of this country and the contemporary socio-political issues we face, the latter need no emancipation.
Black people in this country continue to be the wretched, the marginalized and enslaved yet we are told to be living in a post-colonial social democratic epoch. Democracy for blacks continues to be a dream. To be black remains a flag to advertise how vulnerable you are for continuous exploitation, enslavement and systematic racism.
Why do I write to the office now?
We may walk on different ideological lines with different political views but our generational mission is the same. It is to realize the dream of all the fallen soldiers of Africa who fought tirelessly for the realization of economic freedom and the addressing of the land question that continues to haunt all those who are part of South Africa, grossly and crudely the black majority.
African National Congress (ANC) national spokesperson, Pule Mabe once said,
“it is befitting that in the year in which the ANC has declared as ‘100 Years of Nelson Mandela: The Year of Renewal, Unity and Jobs’, young leaders such as comrade Lamola, within our ranks and in society as a whole, have taken it upon themselves to lead from the front and ensure that the importance of education as cherished by Madiba is not lost to the youth of today.”
I find it befitting to include here the words of the troubled spokesperson for they show how invested the ANC is to the realization of the educated youth in the country – in words. Yet we see the contrary in actions. But this could be a chance to implement the policies of the organization. You were given a chance to study, now the same is being asked from you by others who deserve to get education.
These issues find their raison d’etre on the basis provided by the endless grievances to the state by the students and the black youth of South Africa at large. It is a shame that students had to force the state in 2015 to consider the realization of free education. Even the late former president Mr. Nelson Mandela saw the importance of education in his campaign to government in 1994.
I write this letter to demand the following:
1. Dropping of all #FeesMustFall related charges
If the ANC says apartheid in its totality is a crime against humanity, why does it punish those who are for the fall of every symbolic phenomenon that continues to represent those who were pioneers of colonialism and apartheid in this country.
#RhodesMustFall students were for the destruction of colonialism in the country and the redirection of the energy from neoliberal politics towards decolonization through inculcation of the decolonial thought. While the #FeesMustFall movement spoke about the implementation of free decolonial Afrocentric education. The current government has promised free education as the imperative gesture towards the realization of a stable economy for the country and growth in terms of societal standing.
The Freedom Charter adopted in Kliptown 1955 as the blueprint of the African National Congress struggle of freedom declared this on education under the section titled ‘THE DOORS OF LEARNING AND OF CULTURE SHALL BE OPENED! : Education shall be free, compulsory, and equal for all children”; if this is the case, why are students being punished for calling for the implementation free education?
This then propels a demand to have all charges against students during the #FeesMustFall protests dropped.
As a justice minister, you must request for a presidential pardon in instances of those who have been convicted in #FeesMustFall related cases (the greatest criminalization of those fighting for their rights). We demand a presidential pardon for Khaya Cekeshe who is serving his sentence at a state prison for his role in reminding the government to implement its policy on free education. Only criminals deserve to be in prison, not students fighting for the realization of promised education.
All charges against students must be dropped without conditions. I challenge you to follow the pathway of Robert Sobukwe who said “education to us means service to Africa”.
2. Revisiting of the Land Question with a Pro-Black approach:
As I pen down this letter, I take notice of the fact that the country has reached a national consensus to have the land expropriated without compensation. The discourse seeks to address the injustices of the past 300 years of black slavery and land dispossession. The current government has shown some hostility when it comes to commitments on the discourse on land. But one cannot divorce the issue of land to the continued exclusion of black students from institutions of higher learning. Majority of the students that continue to face academic exclusion are black students.
If black people are truly free, we must ask:
1. Why are black people still landless? Shouldn’t the sitting government at this stage have returned the land to the rightful owners?
2. Why do black people remain poor in the land of their forebears? I recently learnt that the level of unemployment in this country is skyrocketing at 52%. What an irony!
3. Should we be living in an equal society, why do we always have to face constant racism that continues to be perpetuated by white people in this country?
The list is endless given the continuous suffering of black people in this country. If Rhodes had fallen, for sure calling for his fall would have been irrational but students had seen his spirit alive at every corner in South Africa. His body may have died but his spirit continues to live in this country.
Therefore, this leads to the demand of your office to help us kill the spirit of Apartheid Pioneer Cecil Rhodes and ensure the realization of freedom for all black people in the country of their forebears. Blacks shall be free! Land is vital to the freedom of black people and the restoration of their dignity. We must not be arrested for fighting for our own freedom!
Sphelele Khumalo is an undergraduate student at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology doing a Diploma in Business Management. An advocate for a decolonial Africa, fall of whatever remains of colonialism and black oppression.