South Africa will pay tribute to the victims of the tragic events in Lesotho in the 1980s



South Africa will pay tribute to the victims of the tragic events in Lesotho in the 1980s

South Africa’s Ambassador to Russia will participate in an event to honour the victims of the tragic events in Lesotho in the 1980s

As part of its ongoing efforts to preserve, protect and promote the country’s liberation heritage, the National Heritage Council (NHC) in conjunction with Freedom Park has organised the Maseru Massacres Memorial Event to commemorate the victims and survivors of the 1982 and 1985 Maseru Massacres. It will take place in Pretoria at Freedom Park on 9 December 2023.

The Maseru Massacres commemoration event will be presented in a two-part panel discussion format, the first focusing on the aftermath of the tragic events and the second on the power of memory for posterity.

The discussion will bring together intergenerational survivors and family members of the victims of both massacres.

“This important yet atrocious part of our liberation history needs to be preserved and promoted for reconciliation, unity, justice and social cohesion. Our future generation need to know and be aware of the route to our liberation heritage”, said Ndivho Lukhwareni, Chief Executive Officer of the National Heritage Council.  

South Africa’s current Ambassador to Russia, who is also a survivor of the Maseru massacre, Mzuvukile Maketuka, will deliver the keynote opening address, giving a historical overview of the 1982 and 1985 Maseru massacre and its devastating aftermath.

“On behalf of the African National Congress and of all its leaders in South Africa and its jails, and on behalf of all of the people of South Africa who are opposed to this criminal regime, we wish to express today our condolences to you, <…> to your government and to your people, and in particular to the families of those who have now left us. Although we buried them 41 years ago, their memory is still with us today. <…> It is for that reason that we talk of those who fell on the 9th of December 1985, 1982 and 1985,” emphasised South African Ambassador to Russia Mzuvukile Maketuka reading out the words of former African National Congress (ANC) president Oliver Tambo.

This year’s Maseru Massacre event will also see the official opening of the inaugural Le Rona Re Batho art exhibition, a conceptual art project developed by students from Walter Sisulu University in honour of all the fallen heroes and survivors of the massacre. The exhibition will open shortly after the memorial event at Freedom Park and will run until March 2024.

About the events in Maseru in 1982 and 1985

On 9 December 1982, soldiers and officers of the South African Defence Force (SADF) crossed the South African border into Maseru, Lesotho, and carried out one of the bloodiest cross-border raids in apartheid South Africa’s history.

A total of 42 people, including 30 South Africans and 12 Basuto, were killed in homes and settlements where members of the African National Congress (ANC) lived.

Three years later, on 19 December 1985, another cross-border raid was carried out by the SADF in Maseru, where six South African political refugees and three Lesotho nationals were shot dead.





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