President Jacob Zuma Arrives in Mozambique for the Unveiling of the Matola Raid Memorial [press release] (allAfrica.com)

President Jacob Zuma has arrived in Maputo, in the Republic of Mozambique on a working visit to unveil the Matola Monument and Interpretative Centre in commemoration of members of Umkhonto We Sizwe and a Mozambican national who were brutally killed during the ill-famed Matola raid by apartheid defence force in 1981.

The President will join His Excellency President Filipe Nyusi of the Republic of Mozambique to lay the wreaths at the grave site in Llhanguene Cemetery in memory of those struggle heroes both from South Africa and Mozambique who were executed during the raid and those who died in Mozambique around the same period.

The unveiling of the memorial will enable South Africa to pay homage to the fallen soldiers and also acknowledge the sacrifices and contributions made by the Mozambicans towards a free, non-racial and democratic South Africa.

The Monument and the Centre also form part government’s effort to redress the historical imbalances in heritage sites, and to promote social cohesion and nation building. They also form part of the Liberation Heritage Route which preserves South Africa’s liberation legacy.

On 31 January 1981, the South African Defence Force of the then apartheid government raided the African National Congress safe houses in Matola, in Maputo, and viciously killed thirteen members of Umkhonto Wesizwe (MK) and one Mozambican national. These safe houses served as transit points for MK cadres.

The raid constituted part of the apartheid destabilisation campaign against countries and peoples who supported the liberation struggle in neighbouring countries. Similar raids and assassinations were also conducted in Zimbabwe, Angola, Swaziland, Zambia, Lesotho and France among others.

South Africa and Mozambique share strong historical and fraternal ties dating back to the time of the fight against colonialism and apartheid.

To date the two countries share strong economic ties and have formed strong historic and strategic bilateral relations in the many areas of cooperation over the last two decades. Key in this regard, was the decision in 2011 to elevate the structured bilateral mechanism to an annual Bi-National Commission.

President Zuma is accompanied by families of the victims, the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the Minister of Public Works, Mr Thulas Nxesi, the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and the Deputy Minister responsible for Military Veterans Mr Kebby Maphatsoe.

The Minister of Science and Technology Ms Naledi Pandor is Acting President of the Republic as both the President and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa are out of the country. The Deputy President is in Lesotho.

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