Jeppe Boys remember those who fought for freedom

KENSINGTON – Jeppe Boys remembers their own.


Jeppe High School for Boys held a special assembly to commemorate Freedom Day on 29 April.

The assembly was opened with a heartfelt reading of former president Thabo Mbeki’s speech, ‘I am an African’ by Nobhomela Jordan.

Headmaster Anthon Dempsey shared some words of wisdom and remembered Jeppe Boys activists who were also part of the struggle. Dempsey said, “As Jeppe, we had various activists that were part of the struggle for this freedom we enjoy today. Today we pay tribute to some of these men and women.”

He mentioned:

  • Marius Schoon – son of a Jeppe deputy headmaster, was arrested for planting a bomb and sentenced to 12 years.
  • Barney Siman – was the pioneer of non-racial theatre in South Africa.
  • Harry Schwarz – a refugee from Germany who distinguished himself in the battle against racism in South Africa.
  • Ruth First – was active in almost all significant political causes between 1940 and 1982, and was killed by a letter bomb.
  • Brian Bunting – went into exile in 1963 for his role in the SACP.
  • Hyman Basner – led a delegation to the United Nations to protest against segregation in South Africa.
  • Edward Roux – founder of the Young Communist League in 1921.
  • John Rees – was a general secretary of the South African Council of Chamber. He raised millions that were distributed to assist families of detainees.
  • Jeanette Curtis – fought for justice and freedom and paid with her life.
  • Neville Curtis – was a key figure in student politics in the late 60s.
  • Eric William Pelser – was the first white South African to refuse to do military service for South Africa.
  • Sir Bob Hepple – was a freedom fighter and an academic. He was a legal advisor to Nelson Mandela.
Deputy headmaster Kevin Leathem, RCL chairman Nobhomela Jordan, Martin Ledwaba, headmaster Anton Dempsey, Janse van der Ryst, Thandolwethu Maseko and Reolon Moodley.

The guest speaker of the day was Martin Ledwaba who has been working for Jeppe Boys for over 30 years. He shared his experience of apartheid times and how Jeppe Boys was one of the schools that gave him an opportunity to learn. Ledwaba said, “The school gave me an opportunity to be a science lab assistant and that afforded me the opportunity to learn at a time when black people were oppressed.”

He said the spirit of Jeppe Boys is one that can never be forgotten and should be appreciated. He also urged the boys to never take their freedom for granted because it had come at a high cost.

Jeppe Boys have a moment of silent for all those who lost their lives during the struggle.

Deputy headmaster, Kevin Leathem shared a special message and urged the boys to use their freedom wisely. Leathem said, “We should be mindful of the sacrifices made for our freedom and be grateful. Grateful to the men and women who lived the word of our school [motto which] ‘counts honour better than life’ and sacrifice nobler than safety’. I want you to be left with a deep sense of appreciation and gratitude.”

He said freedom is never more than a generation away to extinction and urged the boys to be the instrument of change in ensuring that freedom is enjoyed by all.

A moment of silence was observed for all those who fought for freedom. The South African flag was raised and wreaths laid.

What does Freedom Day mean to you? Share your comment with us on the Joburg East Express Facebook page.

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