Today, 6 June 2020 is as a matter of fact a very special day in the history of South Africa and few people know this. This is a day human rights activists should actually celebrate as a day of remembrance and is just as relevant today as the day it was inscribed in our now archives.
On 6 June 1966, the late New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy, the brother of the slain US President John F. Kennedy, had a groundbreaking speech before the students of the University of Cape Town which then created a stir amongst the National Party regime of the Apartheid era.
This speech became known amongst US nationalists as the “Day of Affirmation” address (or “Ripple of Hope” Speech) and this 33 minute long speech can be heard on the JFK Library site and I do ask everyone who can to please treat yourself and listen to it. And I do mean everyone, irrespective of your race, religion, or beliefs.
When I heard this speech for the first time, it brought tears to my eyes because Robert F. Kennedy was talking to us today 54 years ago and I find it extremely ironic and in a way, a miracle.
In the address, Kennedy talked about individual liberty, Apartheid, and the need for justice in the United States at a time when the American civil rights movement was ongoing. He emphasized inclusiveness and the importance of youth involvement in society. The speech shook up the political situation in South Africa and received praise in the media. It is often considered his greatest and most famous speech.
Here we are today. At a time the new Government we elected democratically together with all other political parties betrayed all the people of our country.
Our liberties had been taken away from us, just like the liberties of the black people of that time. The difference now is that our predominantly black Government has now violated the basic human rights of all the people, black and white. Indian and coloured. Those of our foreign guests. Everyone. All in the name of a disease that has more questions than answers and a 98% recovery rate compared to a 20% mortality rate for TB for which we never had a Lockdown before.
The democracy our black brothers and sisters fought for and the majority of white people agreed to in a referendum, has now become our worst enemy. The democracy we supported is now in a rather weird format where our Government is now seemingly at war with the people who elected them.
Robert’s last day of the trip was spent with various meetings in Johannesburg and a tour through Soweto. In the morning he met with Albert Lutuli, an anti-Apartheid activist that had been banned from political work and press coverage. From the roof of his car in Soweto, Kennedy gave the crowd the first news they had heard of Lutuli in over five years.
Following his trip to Africa, Kennedy wrote an article in Look magazine titled, “Suppose God is Black?” It was the first time in the United States a national politician condemned Apartheid in a widely circulated publication.
Coming back to the further relevance to our court case, our Public Relations Officer, Mr. Andreas Stelzer, noted that Madam Justice Neukircher in the Mohamed case (the dismissed case of our attorney Zehir Omar just before ours) referred to this historic speech in the introduction to that court judgment but mysteriously cited the place and date incorrectly as “remarks before the Joint Defense Appeal of the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith, Chicago, Illinois, June 21, 1961“
Rather strange that a judge would have made such a mistake we thought and it immediately baffled us. We wondered whether this judge did not maybe give us a hint for cases to follow and we quickly managed to put two and two together and amazingly found that Kennedy in fact made that speech on our own home soil and we never knew it.
During argument on Thursday, 28 May 2020 I extensively referred to this address in my heads and as we believed would happen, Justice Norman Davis cited extracts of this address in paragraph 2.3 of the judgment which clearly encouraged the positive outcome.
“Therefore, the essential humanity of man can be protected and preserved only where the government must answer – not just to the wealthy; not just to those of a particular religion, not just to those of a particular race; but to all of the people. And even government by the consent of the governed, as in our own Constitution, must be limited in its power to act against its people: so that there may be no interference with the right to worship, but also no interference with the security of the home; no arbitrary imposition of pains or penalties on an ordinary citizen by ofﬁcials high or low; no restriction on the freedom of men to seek education or to seek work or opportunity of any kind, so that each man may become all that he is capable of becoming.”
Sadly, exactly two years later to the day on 6 June 1968 Robert F. Kennedy was shot and killed by Sirhan Sirhan where many today still believe that he was assassinated because of his liberal beliefs.
Let us not forget the legacy left by him and also support his son, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. fighting against forced vaccinations…