Zuma pays homage to Steve Biko

President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday laid a wreath in the cell where Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko died at Kgosi Mampuru prison. Photo: Tshegofatso Ngobeni

President Jacob Zuma laid a wreath on Tuesday in the cell where Black Consciousness leader, Steve Biko, died at the Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria.

Zuma was accompanied by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Justice Minister Michael Masutha.

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Biko, who died on 12 September 1977 at the Pretoria Central prison (now known as Kgosi Mampuru) had suffered brain damage and other serious injuries after being tortured by the apartheid police while in detention in Port Elizabeth.

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Zuma briefly addressed the media on the role Biko played before the dawn of democracy.

He said the nation ought to be inspired by the role Biko played and described him as a hero and philosopher.

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“Biko was great, he ensured that young people know about black consciousness. He ensured that young people were ready to fight apartheid. He kept his word and never gave in,” said Zuma.

Zuma said besides the black majority acquiring political power, “much more needed to be done, as we do not own the means of the economy”.

He said Biko defined freedom in a way that could easily be understood, adding that many South Africans had different views of freedom.

“If Biko had lived, he would have defined freedom properly. Biko would have said, you have political power but where is the land? Who holds the economy?” Zuma rhetorically asked.

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He said it was important South Africans understood that despite attaining democracy, the country “still had a long way to go”.

“We must not say it is done. I’m not talking politics today, only facts,” said Zuma.

Journalists were given an opportunity to take photos and videos of the cell where Biko died.


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Tshegofatso Ngobeni

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