Highgate survivors set to commemorate shootings

Survivors of the armed attack on the Highgate Hotel in East London 14 years ago will tomorrow commemorate the shootings together and in public for the first time.

Survivors of the armed attack on the Highgate Hotel in East London 14 years ago will tomorrow commemorate the shootings together and in public for the first time.

"Nobody has ever come forward as a group to commemorate the Highgate," said Highgate Survivors' Support Group spokesmen Neville Beling and Neville Harris in East London.

"We as a group are breaking 14 years of silence in honouring those who lost their lives and were injured. Now their souls can be put to rest and we can find some closure."

Beling was severely injured in the attack and Harris' son Deon died.

The group is to hold a brief ceremony at 10am tomorrow morning at the hotel on the outskirts of East London and will unveil a memorial plaque.

Grahamstown-based non-governmental organisation Spirals Trust has been helping the survivors' group to find closure.

Spirals director Theresa Edlmann said there had never been a public memorial for the shootings or an opportunity for East Londoners to show their support for the victims.

"Nobody has ever applied for amnesty for this attack and nobody has ever been convicted," said Edlmann.

Five people died and seven were injured, three of them permanently disabled, in the May 1 1993 shootings.

At the time the attack was widely attributed to the Azanian People's Liberation Army (Apla).

"In November last year some survivors and family members of the Highgate massacre victims met for the first time," said Edlmann.

"They were able to share their memories and experiences of the massacre, as well as hear information that indicated that the attack might have been perpetrated by apartheid security forces rather than Apla, as had been assumed."

After that the survivors' group submitted a memorandum to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) asking for the investigation to be reopened.

Last year the NPA confirmed that it would take another look at the matter.

The survivors and victims' families still want to know who was responsible.

"The survivors' group would also like to appeal to anyone who has information about the attack to come to the memorial or leave a message on 082-877-2168," said Edlmann. - Sapa

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