Address by Deputy Minister Ntombazana Botha on the occasion of the 21st Anniversary of the Assassination of Dulcie September, Arcueil, France

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27 Mar 2009

The Mayor of Arcueil, Mr Daniel Breuiller, Honourable Councillors of Arcueil Municipality,
Principal of the Dulcie September College, Madam Ayache,
Educators and Learners,
Your Excellency Ambassador Sebati,
Esteemed guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bonjour, Good morning

We bring you warm greetings from the people of South Africa. We are delighted to be here in Arcueil and on behalf of the Government of South Africa and the Department of Arts and Culture, we would like to express our heart felt gratitude for the honour to be invited to this significant event to commemorate the life of our beloved Comrade Dulcie September and to participate in today’s programme.

We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to the Mayor of Arcueil, to his team at the Mairie and to the Dulcie September College for the commitment and enthusiasm you have shown in partnering with us on this important project.

We would also like to extend our thanks to the Ambassador of South Africa in France and to her team at the South African Embassy for all their efforts in making this day a reality.

This is an outstanding example of the heights we can achieve when we work together, in true co-operation and partnership!

As Mme Ayache had mentioned, we are privileged to be accompanied by two members of Dulcie September’s family who I would like to briefly introduce to you:

*Mr Michael Arendse, who is the nephew of the late Dulcie September is a resident in South Africa. He works for the ESP Africa, the company which organises the Cape Town Jazz Festival annually. We understand that Michael has intentions of producing a documentary on the life of Dulcie and we would ask for contributions and support for this initiative from people who knew Dulcie well; and
*Mr Randolph Arendse who is Michael’s father’s brother (relation) of the late Dulcie September.

He is a retired Clinical Psychologist and was Head of Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) home of safety. He is presently resident in Lausanne, Switzerland. Dulcie spent her last Christmas in 1987 with Radolph and his family.

Unfortunately, Dulcie’s younger sister, Stephanie Arendse (Michael’s mother) who is 72 years old now could not come with us as she did not feel comfortable to fly over a long distance. However, she sends her warmest greetings and has asked us to convey her sincerest appreciation to the Mairie and the community of Arcueil for honouring her sister in this way.

As the government and the people of South Africa we are truly humbled by the solidarity shown by the international community and the people of Arcueil over the years.

While we were involved in the struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa, the community of Arcueil and, indeed, the people of France, not only extended a hand of friendship by giving refuge to our sisters and brothers who were forced to flee our country, the people of Arcueil ensured that Dulcie’s memory was kept alive and her contributions were not forgotten.

This solidarity is consistently a feature of Arcueil;s relations with South Africa and expresses itself in may forms both governmental and among the civil society. We are grateful for the financial contributions that the community of Arcueil through the leadership of the Mayor of Arcueil made to support our sisters and brothers who were the victims of the unfortunate and painful incidents of xenophobia attacks back home in South Africa.

Some of you the learner’s may be wondering, who was Dulcie September and why she was so feared by the apartheid regime that it became necessary for someone to assassinate her?

Dulcie Evonne September was born on 20 August 1935 and grew up in Athlone which is a suburb of Cape Town. She was among the first group of learners to attend the then newly established Athlone High College which was also attended by our Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr Pallo Jordan. She qualified as a teacher in the mid-50s at a time when education had become one of the terrains of the struggle for liberation. In the mid-1950’s, the then Prime Minister of South Africa, Dr Verwoerd and his government introduced Bantu education, which was inferior system of education intended only for black people. Dr Verwoerd is often quoted has having said that natives (blacks) do not need to be educated and can only be “drawers of water and hewers of wood”.

This is what drove Dulcie September and like-minded activists join politics and associate themselves with the liberation movement. Thus in 1957 joined the Cape Peninsula Students’ Union, an affiliate of the Unity Movement of South Africa.

In October 1963, because of her political activities, she was arrested and detained without trial. In 1964, she was charged with conspiring to commit acts of sabotage together with nine others. She was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and on her release from prison she was banned for 5 years. She then left South Africa in 1974 to further her studies in Britain were she joined the African National Congress (ANC) in exile.

Dulcie was very committed to struggle for freedom and justice and become very involved in the work of the movement. She soon got the recognition of the leadership of the ANC and in 1984 she was appointed Chief Representative of the ANC in France, Switzerland and Luxemburg. She worked very closely with the anti-apartheid movement in Britain and in France.

She was assassinated on 29 March 1988 as she was about to open the ANC office in Paris. Before her assassination she received death threats and we believe that this was reported to the police. However, until this day the assassin has not been arrested.

Dulcie September made an invaluable contribution in the struggle for the liberation of the people of South Africa and even made personal sacrifices.

It is therefore proper and fitting to pay tribute to this gallant fighter, a leader and a hero of our struggle in her own right.

Once again, we would like to express our deep appreciation to the Mairie of Arcueil and the Community of Arcueil for the honour bestowed upon our dear comrade and freedom fighter, Dulcie September. This has inspired us a great deal in South Africa and it has given birth to this Dulcie September Legacy Project. The aims of the Dulcie September Legacy project are:

*To acknowledge the heroes (women and men) who sacrificed their lives for the attainment of freedom and democracy in South Africa.

*To highlight the contribution of Dulcie September in fighting against cultural intolerance and in building a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and cohesive society;

*To highlight the role of women in the struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa and internationally

*To mobilise young South Africans and to instill in them a sense of appreciation of the rich legacy of their forbears as well as the contribution and support of the international community, particularly the anti-apartheid movement, to the liberation of our people.

This project will focus mainly on the legacy of Dulcie September. We hope to hold an annual Dulcie September Memorial Lecture during the month of August at one of our Institutions of Higher Learning in the Western Cape.

The exchange programme between the learners of Dulcie September College in Arcueil and learners of South Africa of the same level proposed by your selves, is most welcomed.

The Department of Arts and Culture has also nominated Dulcie September for the Award of the Mendi Decoration for Bravery. This is the highest form of recognition that South Africa bestows on its citizens and friends. It is one of the few ways in which people who have excelled in their own fields and given exceptional service are acknowledged.

I would again like to thank the people of Arcueil and their public representatives for the goodwill they have shown towards the people of South Africa and for also keeping the memory of Dulcie September alive through this project. We will always love you and remember you for what you have done for us.

I am personally very excited at the prospect of a Learner Exchange Programme between our two countries. We in South Africa will do our best to make this cooperation a resounding success.

Honorable Mayor, esteemed guests; I thank you very much for this opportunity to address you today. Merci beaucoup

Thank You!