Anti-Apartheid activist James Hambile Booi reburied at Zwide heroes acre

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On July 30, 2022, the Eastern Cape government led the reburial of the anti-apartheid activist James Hambile Booi. A leading member of the Nelson Mandela Region, James Hambile Booi was instrumental in the Defiance Campaign in 1952.

In 1961, he was arrested and sentenced to 5 years in prison. As a political activist, he served his sentence on Robben Island alongside other political prisoners.

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On January 17, 1966, Booi was transferred to Groenpunt Prison in Vereeniging, where he was set to serve the remainder of his sentence. However, he died in prison on March 15, 1966, due to ill health and was buried at Zamdela Cemetery in Sasolburg, Free State, as a pauper.

Booi’s family requested the government to assist in repatriating his remains, which were exhumed from Zamdela Cemetery, Sasolburg, in the Free State on June 10, 2022.

“We are glad and comforted to have brought our father’s spirit home,” said MEC Fezeka Nkomonye.

“We found it very important as a government to search and look for Tat ‘Booi’s remains,” she said.


 

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“As Africans, we now know where to go to pay our respects to our beloved Tata and not be left wondering where he is, how he was buried and on whose land he is buried,” said Nkomonye.

“It is with the greatest of honour that I join this congregation today, as we come to the close of Mandela Month, a significant period that is dedicated to the global icon of our country’s struggle for national liberation and the first President of Democratic South Africa,” she said.

“What Madiba and Tata James Booi have in common is that they were both imprisoned on Robben Island in the early 1960s, a place where members of society deemed a threat to the apartheid system were banished,” she said further.

“As the government and people of South Africa, we are elated and comforted, for we have brought our father home. His spirit will be connected to those of his ancestors,” she added.

“It is fitting for Tata Booi’s remains to be laid to rest at the Heroes’ Acre because of his massive and selfless contributions to national liberation, freedom, and democracy,” she said.

“It is also coincidental that at the time we are about to lay him to rest, his organization, the African National Congress, is hosting a National Policy Conference at Nasrec in Johannesburg to reflect on the impact of resolutions and policies that have been endorsed and utilized to bring about change in the lives of the people of South Africa, “she said.

“The recommendations for policy amendments that will be adopted at Nasrec will impact the lives of South African communities in terms of the government’s Programme of Action to bring about a better life for all,” said Nkomonye.

“Tata James Booi played his part and, in his memory, let us do the same,” she encouraged.

The repatriation programme is guided by the Eastern Cape Provincial Policy on Exhumation, Repatriation, and Reburial of Remains of Victims of Conflict (2013), which advocates symbolic reparations to ensure families of victims begin healing and finally find closure.

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