Share this article

​​Had he not been felled by a policeman's bullet, Zolile Hector Pieterson would have turned 56 years on August 19.

As South Africans marked the 43 years of the June '76 Student Uprising on Fathers' Day, some were asking what kind of father would Pieterson have turned out to be?

Would he have been a devout dad who eschewed publicity for a life of piety like his mom? Would h​e have been a community worker who ensures that the world doesn't forget the '76 Massacre like his sister Antoinette?

Hector 2.jpg

These thoughts were swiftly banished into the distance when former Morris Isaacson High pupil and June '79 Foundation member Oupa Moloko told about 500 people at the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum on Sunday, June 16 2019, that the 12-year-old Pieterson didn't die in vain.

Moloko praised Mbuyisa Makhubo, who was captured in the famous photo carrying the bloodied body of Pieterson as a brave and selfless hero who ran towards the trigger-happy policemen to get the wounded boy urgent medical help.

The June '79 veteran also acknowledged respected educationists like Abrahm Onkgopotse Tiro, Stan Mathabathe and Fanyana Mazibuko for instilling self-pride, a hunger for justice and a fearlessness among their young charges at Morris Isaacson.

Moloko brought the commemoration to present by urging protesters to respect public property. “In our day, we burnt down the dreaded beerhalls. We didn't torch schools and libraries because we knew that we needed those institutions to further our struggle for liberation," said Moloko.

Gauteng MPL and FeesMustFall student leader Fasiha Hassan told the crowd that included Gauteng Premier David Makhura and some members of his cabinet, and Community Development and Public Safety MMCs Cllrs Nonhlanhla Sifumba and Michael Sun that the struggle for free education still continues.

Speaking on behalf of the Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Cllr Herman Mashaba, MMC Sifumba echoed Moloko's dire warning against the destruction of public property. She urged young members in the crowd to take advantage of the Opportunity Centres the City has established to guide aspiring entrepreneurs towards becoming fully fledged business people.

Premier Makhura announced that the provincial government was working on a policy document to transform the economic landscape of Gauteng that will have the youth as its main drivers.

“The time for talking down to the youth is over. We have to listen to the youth during Youth Month so that they too can become the co-architects of their bright futures," said Makhura before leading a wreath-laying ceremony at the packed memorial.