Mashatile presides over veterans’ headstone memorialisation

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Deputy President Paul Mashatile used a Thursday military veterans’ memorialisation event across five Gauteng cemeteries to “recognise the injustices of our past, honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land and heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights”.

Headstones were handed to family representatives of fallen MK (UmKhonto we Sizwe) fighters at Garankuwa (one headstone); Avalon, Soweto (seven headstones); Tembisa (four); Westpark, Johannesburg (eight); and Crystal Park, Benoni (two). The Presidential point man on military veterans then addressed families, relatives and military veterans in Soweto’s Orlando Community Hall.

SANews reports Mashatile telling those in attendance: “As we remember and commemorate their sacrifice, it is important for us to not only honour their memory but also to ensure that their legacy lives on. We must continue to support and care for our veterans and their families. We must strive to create a society that values and respects the sacrifices made by MK veterans and their families”.

Mashatile expressed regret that some veterans and their families were still struggling with poverty after 30 years of democracy. “Sadly, most of these brave men and women were never able to save for retirement or their children’s futures by funding health care plans or pensions, or by looking into different options for skills development or financing for their schooling.”

He said government was actively working to bring about the change it deserves. “We are committed to providing support to the families of MK veterans in various ways, including financial assistance, to ensure they can lead fulfilling lives.”

This is being addressed by the Presidential task team on military veterans which he heads following former deputy president David Mabuza’s exit.

Mashatile’s Orlando address, posted on The Presidency, has him saying: “As the ANC-led government, we are committed to providing support to the families of MK veterans in various ways, including financial assistance, to ensure they can lead fulfilling lives. Having personally witnessed the hardships endured by our people in their fight for freedom, I feel a deep sense of obligation that we really need to acknowledge and do our utmost to support them and their families for the sacrifices they made to liberate our country”.

“This government is therefore striving to achieve greater policy alignment in the government’s service delivery function, specifically concerning the services offered to military veterans and their dependents.”