Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .
President Thabo Mbeki's cabinet members have condemned the heckling of their boss and the walkout by large sections of the crowd at the reburial of liberation hero Moses Mabhida.
Cabinet spokesman Themba Maseko said yesterday that a similar "disruption" had happened at the Satyagraha commemoration attended by the prime minister of India earlier this year.
At the Mabhida reburial in Pietermaritzburg last week Mbeki was embarrassed by the crowd. Former deputy president Jacob Zuma intervened and asked the crowd to stay until Mbeki had finished speaking.
Some commentators have speculated that the disruption was caused by Zuma supporters.
"The cabinet condemns such behaviour in the strongest possible terms. [It] is unacceptable and is an embarrassment to all clear-thinking South Africans," said Maseko.
"Though this government will protect everyone's right to differ with the president or with any member of his government, decency and common sense require everyone to do so in a respectful and decent manner.
"The purposeful and premeditated disruption of public gatherings shows contempt for the democratic rights and values for which so many South Africans and our international supporters made great sacrifices.
"Such conduct is all the more offensive when staged in the presence of democratically elected heads of state and government. No amount of feeling or strong opinion can justify it. We trust that those who instigated and participated in this abhorrent behaviour will resist the temptation to behave this way in future.
"We are convinced that such conduct does not in any way represent the views of the people of KwaZulu-Natal and that the majority of South Africans will condemn and discourage such conduct now and in the future."