Elders, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends,
Allow me at the outset to express my heartfelt condolence to the bereaved family and friends of Nathaniel Julius and the community of Eldorado Park. As a nation we mourn daily the senseless loss of life through acts of violence and the brutal killing of Nathaniel is no exception to this. It pains us that the life of such a harmless, defenceless and vulnerable young man is wrenched from us in this vile way. My grandfather, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela said that there is no greater measure of the soul of a nation than the way it treats its most vulnerable.
Nathaniel had no easy life but he was loved by many. He was loved in the neighbourhood in which he grew up and lived and by all who knew him. His untimely death leaves us asking the question: why? Why? Why?
Why has life become so easy to take? Why have we become so desensitized by such wanton acts of criminality? And why are we not doing more to stop these senseless killings? These questions all have cryptic answers but it takes us no closer to healing these festering wounds that has dehumanize us, stripped us of our dignity and robbed our families and communities of loved ones.
If we go by Madiba’s measure of the soul of our nation, we are in deep trouble and need to reach deep into the recesses of our being to search for lasting solutions and the renewal of our moral compass and restoration of the soul of our nation.
In his Presidency, President Mandela demonstrated daily the honourable and dignified way in which he treated children, youth and the vulnerable. Millions of young people like Nathaniel deserve to be cared for, educated and developed in order to heal South Africa and fulfill its potential
We must start by acknowledging that our society has not healed from centuries and decades of trauma under colonialism and apartheid brutality. Those who are designated to protect us are by ommission or commission equally guilty of perpetuating the horrid legacy of violence that shames us and robs us of the joy of life.
We once stood proud as a nation and proclaimed for all the world to hear that an injury to one is an injury to all. Today, we stand divided in the face of this scourge. Farmers and farmer organisations demand their pound of flesh. Workers demand fair wages and dignified treatment at the hands of employers. Our experience has taught us that it is only through collective solidarity and joint action that we are going to be able to triumph.
For decades now Eldorado Park has been offering up young Nathaniels. This predominantly coloured community is holding up a mirror for our nation and requires us to ensure that the loss of life has not been in vain. It is no different to any other community; it shares the same fears, hopes and aspirations.
We must guard against protecting narrow parochial interests that only serves to divide us. In the face of marginalisation we must resist the urge to ourselves become a threat to democracy and our own hard earned right to be treated as equals. In the face of brutality we must speak the language of unity. We must condemn all forms of violence regardless of whom the victims are.
The strength of our mass democratic movement and our global anti apartheid movement was derived from our collective resolve to end all human suffering. It is this united, non-racial and non sexist character of our struggle that ushered in the dawn of our democracy.
Today, if there are those who do not hear the cries of the communities of Eldorado Park, Manenberg, Hanover Park and other remnants of Apartheid’s social engineering then we must make our voices heard in the corridors of power, parliament, the judiciary, media and every possible platform until the message reaches home.
Today, I call on you not to retreat to your corners just as I call on farmers not to retreat to their ox wagons and farmworkers not to be trapped in the kraals of their struggle. We must seize centre stage and ensure our people’s every day struggles for land, housing, safety, food and dignity enhance nation building and social cohesion.
This is the birth right of every child born in our democratic dispensation. Their collective wellbeing and full human rights is enshrined in our constitution, the bill of rights and our freedom charter. It pains me as it would pain my grandfather that the community of Eldorado Park still feels marginalized and that their struggles don’t matter.
I have stood on many platforms and proclaimed that Black Lives Matter, and that Palestinian lives matter. Today, I iterate my call for solidarity of the suffering of all our people. Today, we proclaim that the lives of the children and youth of Eldorado Park matters just as much as the lives of all our children.
We demand justice for Nathaniel Julius and we demand justice for every victim of crime.
We call on President Ramaphosa, Minister of Police and other law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned in order to bring the rogue members of our police to book and under control. They do a disservice to the uniform they wear.
Let us recommit to building the South Africa of our dreams and standing together united until its achievement.
I thank you!!
Nkosi Zwelivelile “Mandla” Mandela, chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council and grandson of famed South African President Nelson Mandela. Member of Parliament (MP) South Africa National Assembly. All articles by Nkosi Zwelivelile “Mandla” Mandela