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Presidents Zuma and Nyusi unveil Matola Raid Memorial

IIn what was the SADF’s first-ever cross-border raid into a neighbouring state, codenamed Operation Beanbag, the soldiers killed 15 South Africans and a Portuguese civilian for the loss of three of their own. Several of the dead South Africans were senior members of uMkhonto weSizwe, the military wing of the ANC.

On 11 September 2015, the Matola Raid Memorial and Interpretive Centre was officially unveiled and opened in the Mozambican capital by South African President Jacob Zuma and Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi.

In his address, President Zuma said: “This monument is a symbol of victory and sacrifice. The opening of this monument stands as a witness of freedom, and it also stands as a testament to the resilience of our people.

“This monument is our testimony to the world that we have conquered in trying times. It is a reminder that we were once the victims of the evil apartheid system colonialism and brutality, but we are today witnesses to freedom.”

The result of years of bilateral planning by South Africa and Mozambique, most notably the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two countries on 14 February 2011, the memorial commemorates those who were killed on that fateful night.

The Matola Raid Memorial and Interpretive Centre is the first of its kind, and seeks to advance knowledge of the contributions by Mozambicans and South Africans to the struggle. Integral to its design are artistic elements that seek to capture the circumstances of the raid itself, memorialise the dead, and reflect the thoughts and experiences of South African and Mozambican intellectuals and exiles.

{image_1}The memorial will also form part of the Liberation Heritage Route, a group of sites in South Africa that are of great significance to South Africa’s liberation struggle. Former ANC leader Oliver Tambo’s home, former President Nelson Mandela’s birthplace, Nqquza Hill (the site of the 1960 Pondoland Massacre) and Liliesleaf Farm (where most of the Rivonia Treason Trial accused were arrested in 1963) are among such places.

Former Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile, announcing the Liberation Heritage Route in 2011, said that further sites in Mozambique, Angola, Tanzania and Zambia – such as the memorial at Matola – would also be developed to be a part of the route. His successor, Nathi Mthethwa, told Parliament this year that the memorial would also be linked to the site in South Africa where Mozambican President Samora Machel’s aircraft crashed in 1986.

“To this effect, we will be pioneering a new model of cross-border collaboration as part of the Liberation Heritage Route,” Mthethwa told Parliament during his department’s budget vote.

Shortly after the memorial was announced in 2011 Raj Rabilal, the brother of Krishna Rabilal, one of those killed in the Matola raid, said: “It’s comforting to know that their contributions and their sacrifices are being fully acknowledged and that their names will live on.”

For more information about the Matola Raid Memorial and Interpretive Centre, please contact the Mozambique National Tourism Authority on +258 21 30 73 20/1, or info@inatur.org.mz.

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