As we mark the culmination of Women’s Month, the Arts and Culture Deputy Minister, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi has today unveiled the burial and memorial site of first African woman, the late former regent chieftainess Mme Makwena Matlala in honour of her struggle against injustice and land dispossession under the apartheid regime.
The unveiling took place today, 31 August 2015 at Bakone Traditional Council, Ga-Matlala in Limpopo under the theme, “Remembering the Forgotten, Honouring Victims of Political Banishment in South Africa”.
Speaking during the unveiling, Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi strongly appreciated the people of Ga-Matlala for their warmth welcome and their dedication to making this historic event a reality.
“We convey our deepest gratitude to the family, Kgoshigadi Matlala, Bakone Traditional Council and community members of Ga-Matlala for allowing us to honour, Mme Makwena Matlala, the first African woman to be banished for opposing betterment policies imposed by the apartheid government through the Native Affairs Department”, acknowledged deputy minister Mabudafhasi.
“The unveiling and commemoration of Mme Makwena Matlala’s Burial and Memorial site culminates the Women’s Month. It is in this month that we commemorate the lives of women, past and present whose contribution continues to build our country”, continues Mabudafhasi.
During her reign, Mme Makwena Matlala refused to accept the government’s betterment policies. The government then deposed Makwena Matlala as Chieftainess and later banished her to Temba in Hammanskraal, then to King Williamstown. Her banishment sparked a revolt among other local people. Subsequently, the Apartheid government removed and banished over 50 people who were identified as supporters of Makwena Matlala in an attempt to quell the rising tide of discontent.
The deputy minister also alluded to the fact that the contribution made by rural women in the struggle for freedom and democracy is less acknowledged however, the Government is committed to address the issue.
“Our Government, through the Department of Arts and Culture will continue to implement programmes that reflect the transformation of the heritage landscape of the country to ensure that it truly represents the diversity of our society. Today we commemorate and remember the life of an unsung heroine, Mme Makwena Matlala, a regent Chieftainess who stood firm against betterment policies of the apartheid government, for a free, democratic, non-sexist, non-racial and prosperous South Africa”, stated deputy minister Mabudafhasi.
The restoration and rehabilitation of the graves as well as the erection of memorial sites forms part of the Liberation Heritage Route programme of the Department of Arts and Culture which seeks to link all liberation heritage sites in South Africa, the SADC region and the entire Africa continent.
The Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) through the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) is mandated to coordinate the identification and management of South Africa’s heritage resources. Section 36 of the National Heritage Resources Act no 25 of 1999 (NHRA), stipulates that SAHRA must identify and record graves of victims of conflict and any other graves which it deems to be of cultural significance and may erect memorials associated with the grave.
Issued by the department of Arts and Culture