On Sunday, the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) in South Africa organised its 13th Annual Palestine Walk for Freedom at Rose Park in Lenasia, Gauteng. PSA members and invitees – which included individuals and community organisations – marched along a route of approximately 7.5km, while raising flags and banners in support of Palestine. They also paid tribute to Palestinian martyrs and detainees in Israeli occupation prisons.
The route for the walk was well-patrolled, with marshals stationed at strategic points and ambulances on ground. There were adequate watering points, and care provided for children and the elderly. There were also stalls where people could buy food and Palestinian paraphernalia.
After the walk, the event featured international and local guest speakers who drew attention to the Israeli violations against Palestinians in the Zionist regime as well as other injustices currently occurring in other parts of the world.
Some speakers included Nadima Noor an Afghan-Canadian Humanitarian worker and founder of Dream Voice Act, Hassan Lorgat, Anwar Jetham, Roshan Dadoo, Stiaan van der Merwe.
Tickets to attend the walk were sold for R35 (about $2), with a large proportion of the proceeds going directly toward liberation efforts in Palestine while the rest went to mobilising resourced for the walk.
According to PSA, the aim of the event was to create awareness and ‘stir consciences about the horrendous scourge of apartheid being perpetrated on the people of Palestine’.
This was especially important now as the global community’s focus had seemingly shifted to the Ukraine conflict. ‘It and the United Nations have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the continuing catastrophe in Palestine,’ said PSA.
South Africa and Palestine
Though separated by thousands of miles and starkly different cultures, one thing that South Africa and Palestine share in common is oppression, particularly apartheid.
South Africa has supported Palestine since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1995, a year after the end of the apartheid regime in Cape Town.
Nelson Mandela himself championed the cause in South Africa, saying in 1997, ‘The United Nations took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system…but we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.’
Likewise, the PSA recognises the Palestinians’ cause as ‘familiar to us as South Africans who have lived under Apartheid and dealt with its legacy’, and have even gone as far as saying ‘Our struggle is their [Palestinian] struggle’.
South Africa withdrew its ambassador to Israel in 2019, and lessened its diplomatic representation in Tel Aviv.
In more recent times, South Africa’s International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor asserted that ‘the people of Palestine deserve their territory and freedom’ at the South Africa-US Strategic Dialogue. Pandor has been known to make strong shows of support of the Palestinian cause.
Just last month, Pandor called for Israel to be declared as an apartheid state during the second meeting of the Palestinian Heads of Mission in Africa. ‘The Palestinian narrative evokes experiences of South Africa’s own history of racial segregation and operation. As oppressed South Africans, we experienced first-hand the effects of racial inequality, discrimination and denial, and we cannot stand by while another generation of Palestinians are left behind ’, she said at the meeting which was held in Pretoria.
She was also the first South African government official to speak out against the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli forces during the West Bank raid in May.
In 2021, South Africa condemned the African Union (AU) Commission’s decision to grant Israel an observer status in the AU. ‘The decision to grant Israel observer status is even more shocking in a year in which the oppressed people of Palestine were hounded by destructive bombardments and continued illegal settlements of the land,’ said South Africa’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Source: Al Mayadeen English