Joburg stress social cohesion in youth celebration

City of Joburg Statement

The City of Johannesburg together with various stakeholders will commemorate Youth Day through various activities aimed at creating awareness about the importance of the day in the history of South Africa.

The commemorations will commence in the early hours of the morning with a symbolic march in Alexandra Township in memory of those who gave their lives for freedom.

The Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Clr Mpho Parks Tau, will then address the gathering at the end of the march and officially unveil a plaque at Realogile High School in Alexandra.

The entourage will then proceed to Westdene Dam for a ceremony hosted by the City of Johannesburg and Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo in partnership with the Kathrada Foundation.

As part of a social cohesion initiative, a commemoration of the Westdene Dam disaster has also been included in the June 16 programme for this year.  In 1985, 42 learners from Voerentoe Höerschool lost their lives when their school bus plunged into the dam. On that tragic day, about 3 000 people, including distressed parents, gathered near the scene as medics tried to revive children pulled from the submerged bus.

Public attention was again drawn to this tragedy earlier this year, when a young former journalist Zama Khumalo made racist statements on a Social Media platform (Facebook), calling on people to celebrate the deaths of white children.

In response, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation organized a commemoration of the 28th anniversary of the Westdene Dam disaster, held on 23 March 2013 at the site of the tragedy.  At this occasion Zama Khumalo was present to give a public apology for his hurtful statements.

This event provides a valuable opportunity for the Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg to lay a wreath on behalf of the City and residents of Johannesburg, thereby aiding people to unite in remembrance of young people who lost their lives, irrespective of the colour or creed.

In another parallel event organized for the day, masses will gather at Naledi High School for a march themed “Walking in the footsteps of the 1976 generation”.  The march will follow the June 16 trail towards the Hector Pieterson Memorial square on route to Orlando Stadium.

Dignitaries from the Westdene Dam event will meet up with the marchers from Naledi for an official programme at the Hector Pieterson Memorial square. Crowds gathered at the square will be addressed by the Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, June 16Foundation and the National Youth Development Agency.

The annual Wreath-Laying ceremony at Hector Pieterson Memorial will then take place before participants depart for Mofolo Park.

The activities will then move to Mofolo Park where Premier Nomvula Mokonyane is expected to address the crowds gathered in celebration of the significance of the day.

Furthermore, Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ) has lined up activities involving and partnering young people in the city, to commemorate Youth Month.

There will be a series of initiatives to empower youth in the city and build food resilience in-line with the City’s Joburg 2040 strategy and to mark World Environment Month.

Some of the activities planned by JCPZ include the following:

1.    18 June – Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo will oversee the repainting of some of the classrooms, plumbing concerns and develop a food garden at Bottom Primary in Snake Park.

2.    19 June – Unveiling of 4 vegetable gardens sponsored by BMW Financial Services in Midrand, Rabie Ridge and Ivory Park. The gardens were developed by youth-based suppliers and includes a model that incorporates food tunnels, vegetable saplings, garden implements including wheelbarrows, hosepipes, gloves, spades etc. and  a camera which will enable JCPZ to complement its existing monitoring processes to ensure that the initiatives are sustainable.

3.    20-22 June – JCPZ is coordinating the transport for 60 students each, from Alexandra, Diepsloot, Noordgesig, Soweto and Orange Farm to the Sandton Convention Centre for a careers guidance day.

4.    JCPZ is also coordinating the planting of fruit trees in each of the 7 regions during the month of June to mark the unrest of theJune 16 aftermath in 1976. The trees will be planted by 259 participants including youth in learnership programmes together with youth from the regions.

These initiatives form part of a comprehensive programme put together by the City of Johannesburg to commemorate June 16 this year. The Executive Mayor called on the private sector and organisations to address the skills gaps and to where possible create employment for the youth in the City of Joburg.

Issued by the City of Joburg

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