Human Rights Month launched at Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre

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As the country commemorates Human Rights Month, the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Zizi Kodwa say the gallows at Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre in Pretoria serves as a stark reminder of why the death penalty should never be reinstated.

The detention facility is where thousands of political prisoners who were fighting the apartheid regime, were hanged. Kodwa and Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola, launched the 2024 Human Rights Month programme at the facility.

Inside the Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre in Pretoria, the Gallows Museum stands as a sombre testament to South Africa’s tumultuous past. It is a harsh reminder of what freedom fighters endured prior to democracy.

Almost 3 500 political prisoners took the 52 steps inside the facility and breathed their last breath when they were hanged mercilessly. For the families of those prisoners, they are forced to relive the horrors each year.

“We have opened our wounds again. Mr Minister, please take all this into consideration. I remember 2011, we had a cleansing of the gallows. By then our families were promised so many things, especially education. But we the people on the floor, we suffer.”

The museum serves, not just as a reminder of a past, but a warning not to return to the horrors.

“There are pockets that still enjoy and celebrate the past. Those pockets must not worry us that we must go back and celebrate the past. I think the presence of this facility is to demonstrate and show us the brutality of the past and the reasons why we must never go back to the past. I hear people when you talk about crime, for example, why don’t we bring back the death penalty? And I don’t think they know this, and I think we must intensify the point. We are making awareness about the brutality of the past and some of the measures we must put in place to deal with our current challenges, including crime. But we can never dream about the past to the extent that we are calling for the death penalty to be back,” Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Zizi Kodwa explains.

Many parallels can be drawn between the ongoing atrocities in Gaza and Palestine and the echoes of violence in Apartheid South Africa.

“We must continue to call for the state of Israel to cease its military operations in the Gaza Strip and light the six provisional measures of the CJ ruling. And we must put to call for the Israel not to continue operations in the Gaza State where 1.4 million Palestinian people have got no weapons,” Ronald Lamola, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services elaborates.

The visit marked the launch of the month-long programme under the theme “Three Decades of Respect for and Promotion of Human Rights”.