Address by Nelson Mandela at the funeral of Mrs Nokuzola Biko, King William's Town

25 November 1995

The death of Mrs. Nokuzola Alice Biko on 13 November is great loss not only to the Biko family but the entire King Williamstown. During these trying moments, we extend a hand of grief and sorrow to Nohlungu, Khaya, Nobandile, Lona, grand children and all family members.

The Biko family is no stranger to such tragic circumstances. In 1977 the Biko family was thrust into the international focus with the death in detention of Bantu. Steve was not another statistic. His death helped highlight the plight of detainees who were daily subjected to gruesome methods of torture, death and unending spells in detention without trial.

Yet it is the death of such martyrs as Steve that laid a firm and solid foundation for the dawn of peace, freedom and democracy in our country. It is through their unflinching sacrifice in the face of a vicious, ruthless and racist government that today we remain firmly on the road to a better life for all.

We thank the Biko family in general and Ma-Biko in particular for contributing a son committed to the qualitative transformation of the lives of the majority at the expense of his own life.

Yet as we traverse the last mile with Ma-Biko we cannot but remember that she died without seeing justice being done to the murderers of Bantu and other detainees. Yet Ma-Biko died in the knowledge that the democratic government will leave no stone unturned to ensure that the truth is told and justice done.

Those who ignore the basic tenets of justice and call for such trials to be suspended pending the outcome of the Truth Commission are guilty of a flagrant disregard for the feelings of Biko family and many others who paid the supreme price in the cause of our struggle. The law must be applied even-handedly, without fear or favour.

We warn those who threaten violence and mayhem should the trial of certain members of the previous government continue that the majority of South Africans stand firmly behind the current processes of the law. Their threats of mayhem will find its match in the vast majority of our people who put this government into power.

As we lay to rest the mortal remains of Ma-Nokuzola Alice Biko, let us recommit ourselves to continue affording the democratic government our unqualified support to ensure that never again must our people be subjected to such inhuman conditions of life.

On behalf of myself, the entire National Executive Committee of the ANC, membership and supporters of the ANC, we say to the Biko Family, Akuhlanga Lungehlanga!

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation