Port Elizabeth - South Africa will never forget the heroism and bravery of the Pebco 3 and Cosas 2, says President Jacob Zuma.
"The Pebco 3, Sipho Hashe, Champion Galela, and Qaqawuli Godolozi as well as the Cosas 2, Siphiwo Mthimkhulu and Topsy Madaka will forever be etched in the collective memory of our nation," said the President on Saturday.
Zuma said generations to come would know the heroism and bravery of these patriots. "They will salute them for their dedication to this country and its people."
The three Port Elizabeth Black Civic Organisation (Pebco 3) members and Congress of South African Students (Cosas 2) members were activists abducted by members of the Eastern Cape Security Police in 1982 and 1985 respectively.
The men were taken to the Post Chalmers Farm, where they were interrogated, tortured, drugged and shot dead. Their bodies were then burnt on a wood fire.
They were finally laid to rest in Port Elizabeth by their loved ones on Saturday, after their remains were handed over by government in September.
Addressing the reburial ceremony, Zuma explained that the families, relatives, neighbours and comrades of the men had known nothing of their fate until the truth and reconciliation hearings in 1997.
It was only 10 years later, in 2007 that their remains were discovered and even then it took two years of research involving international forensic experts, to positively identify them at the Pebco 3 and Cosas 2.
"Today we are able to fully acknowledge and register our appreciation of the role of these leaders in the struggle for freedom," said Zuma.
He added that despite the trying and testing times of the 1980s, these leaders decided that it was their mission to free the country from apartheid oppression.
President Zuma acknowledged Sipho Hashe who fought tirelessly to promote the ANC policy of non-racialism and the Freedom Charter, he paid tribute to Twasile Galela who was instrumental in reviving Pebco and became its Vice Secretary General and he saluted Qaqawuli Godolozi who was a dedicated young leader who did not think twice about carrying out tasks whenever he was delegated.
"We pay homage to the two young men who also put the needs of their country before their own," he said.
However, while mourning, South Africa must celebrate our freedom and ability to triumph over hatred and evil, and build a free, democratic and united country.
"In paying tribute to our illustrious heroes, we also celebrate the fact that we are a nation that continues to draw its strength from its history, from its heroes, and from the countless sons and daughters who laid down their lives for freedom, democracy and justice.
"Today all of us, black and white, live that dream of freedom in a non-racial, democratic South Africa," said the President.