Johannesburg - South Africa should strive to improve the lives of its citizens as part of the freedom it is now enjoying, acting President Kgalema Motlanthe told hundreds gathered for the main Human Rights Day celebrations in Sharpeville. .
"This means that as government, working with our social partners, we must try to improve the quality of life of all our people by providing shelter, basic amenities, education and security," said Motlanthe on Sunday.
He was addressing the main celebration of the 50th anniversary of Human Rights Day in Sharpeville.
He said the common history of South Africans needed to be told objectively and that a common ownership of the nation's history must never be undermined.
"This place inspired us to sustain the pursuit of civil liberties that are enshrined and guaranteed in our Constitution," he told the gathering.
The day resulted in 69 people losing their lives and several others sustaining injuries in protest against pass laws.
"These allude to our obligations and responsibility to improve the socio-economic condition of our people in honour of the departed who paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom," he said.
Hundreds of people descended on Sharpville's cricket grounds dressed in ANC and PAC t-shirts while several others were carrying flags of their respective political organisations.
Motlanthe warned that the freedom now enjoyed by South Africans means that those who are unhappy by the pace of slow service delivery do not resort to burning public facilities like libraries.
The country has recently witnessed an increase in service delivery protests.
Motlanthe said it is important that those who lost their lives did not do so in vain.
"We state that our democratic government undertake to never ignore the plight of the poor, those without shelter, those without means to education and those suffering from abuse and neglect," he said.
The event was also graced by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga who passed the torch of peace to Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe.
Leaders of the PAC, Independent Democrats as well as the Democratic Alliance were also at the event. Poet Don Mattera and singer Thandiswa Mazwai were amongst the artists entertaining the crowds that gathered in the historic place.