Commemorating Human Rights Day got off to a rocky start on live television as a broadcast at the Sharpeville Cemetery in Vereeniging deteriorated into a scuffle, apparently between warring factions of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC).
The party, which is credited for its involvement in the 1960 anti-pass law marches in Langa in Cape Town and Vereeniging in Gauteng which led to the Sharpeville massacre, is embroiled in factional leadership battles. The situation boiled over yesterday with two separate PAC marches.
Morning Live presenter Leanne Manas took to Twitter to say the broadcast was abruptly cut during what appeared to be threats of violence between members of separate PAC factions.
“Abrupt & frightening end to our broadcast from Sharpeville cemetery as 2 factions of the PAC stormed in front of our cameras & started threatening each other violently. Thanks to amazing crew for shielding & running me out of there! Ducked a few blows. See y’all tomorrow (emoji) sharp,” she said.
In a statement yesterday, PAC spokesperson Kenneth Mokgatlhe highlighted some long-standing arguments over the true meaning of the public holiday.
“It is not a human rights day. We were fighting for the return of our stolen land, not to share toilets with other nationalities. Our struggle since 1652 has always been for land and not some cheap human rights.
“It is worrying to see some media houses distorting the events of March 21, 1960. It was Robert Sobukwe who led the country to a new political landscape. Nyakane Tsolo was PAC leader in Sharpeville and he should be remembered,” Mokgatlhe said.