Free State premier, Ace Magashule, has warned drug dealers against destroying South Africa’s future by turning the youth into drug addicts.
Addressing thousands of young people that were gathered at the Mangaung Outdoor Sport Centre in Rocklands, Bloemfontein, at a commemoration event of the 37th anniversary of the Soweto uprising, Magashule said drugs have taken over the lives of young people in townships across the country.
June 16 is a commemorative day of the protest by the youth against the system of Bantu Education, which sought to perpetuate the oppression of blacks by whites. It was a revolt against Hendrik Verwoerd’s philosophy that sought to preserve white privileges by condemning blacks to being “hewers of wood and drawers of water.”
In Verwoerd’s view, blacks were to serve only as a labour reservoir for whites. June 1976 was fundamentally about the demand for quality education; the kind that would propel the youth into the mainstream economy.
Magashule said many young people have been turned into drug and alcohol slaves by people whose children are studying at universities.
“While the youth of 1976 was focused and determined on fighting against the apartheid and Afrikaans as medium of instruction in schools and it was fundamentally about quality education for all, today we are faced with youth that seem to have been taken off-path.
“The country has to now unite and fight against drugs, gangsterism, alcohol-abuse, teenage pregnancy, truancy, mob justice and child and women abuse. The youth have become slaves of drugs such as nyaope while others have become alcoholics at the hands of people who are only looking out for their own children,” said Magashule.
The premier urged young people to focus on getting educated and equipping themselves to becoming the future leaders of this country.
“It is important for young people to know that the freedom they are having today did not come free and that it needs to be protected at all costs. Education is the only key to protecting our country and its freedom but there are people who have become obstacles in making sure that what youth fought for in 1976 is achieved and realised.”
The Free State government has organised a series of events to commemorate the youth month under the theme ‘Working with the youth towards socio-economic freedom’.
A series of June 16 memorial lectures will be held in various areas such as Parys, Welkom, Harrismith, Zastron, Thaba-Nchu Dennisville, Frankfort, Kroonstad, Vrede, Bethlehem, Ficksburg, Ladybrand, Bothaville, Theuniseun, Hertzogville, Bultfontein, Bethulie, Koffiefontein and Rouxville.