Freedom Park Heritage Site


Maseru Masacre Commemoration

In its continued efforts to preserve, protect and promote the country’s liberation heritage, the National Heritage Council (NHC) together with Freedom Park have partnered with the Le Rona Re Batho Memorial Trust to host the inaugural Maseru Massacres Memorial Lecture – in commemoration and honour of the victims and survivors of the 1982 and 1985 Maseru Massacres.

The event will be held at Freedom Park on 09 December 2023, starting at 10h00.

The Maseru Massacres Memorial Lecture will be presented in a 2-part panel discussion format, under the themes ‘The Untold Chronicles of the Maseru Massacres’ and ‘The Power of Remembrance for Posterity.’ The panel discussion will comprise an intergenerational mix of speakers / panelists who are survivors and family members of the victims of both massacres.

This important yet atrocious part of our liberation history needs to be preserved and promoted for reconciliation, unity, justice and social cohesion. Our future generation need to know and be aware of the route to our liberation heritage”, says Dr Ndivho Lukhwareni, Chief Executive Officer of the National Heritage Council. 

 The current South African Ambassador to Russia and the then ANC Head of Intelligence in Lesotho, who also survived the Maseru Massacres, His Excellency Ambassador Mzuvukile Jeff Maqetuka will deliver the keynote opening remarks by giving a historic overview of the 1982 and 1985 Maseru Massacres and its devastating impact.

This year’s Maseru Massacres commemorative event will also see the official opening of the inaugural Le Rona Re Batho Art Exhibition – a conceptual art project pioneered by the Walter Sisulu University Fine Art students, in honour of all the unsung fallen heroes and those who survived the massacres. The exhibition will open shortly after the conclusion of the memorial lecture at Freedom Park and will be on display for public viewing until March 2024.

“We are very grateful and fortunate to have forged such a historic partnership with the Walter Sisulu University Fine Art department through an art project that will not only document and memorialise the history and legacy of the Maseru Massacres for posterity, but also aims to reclaim and centre the often-marginalised voices of the survivors both here in South Africa and Lesotho,” says Nomzamo Nkatshu, one of the co-founders of the Le Rona Re Batho Memorial Trust. 

“We would also like to extend our heartfelt commiserations to our Basotho counterparts who were equally impacted by the calamity of these Massacres. We hope that, next year, we would be able to raise enough funds that will enable us to host the 2024 commemorative event together with them in Maseru,” adds Nkatshu.


Media Enquiries:

National Heritage Council

Tebogo Shilakwe

Mobile: 084 597 8881

Le Rona Re Batho Memorial Trust

Nomzamo Nkatshu

Mobile: 062 269 8592

Freedom Park

Naomi Madima

Mobile: 060 961 3851

About the Le Rona Re Batho Memorial Trust

The Le Rona Re Batho Memorial Trust is a Not-for-Profit organisation whose co-founders are survivors, children and grandchildren of the victims of the 1982 and 1985 Maseru Massacres. The Memorial Trust was born out of years of public outcry and frustration from the survivors and family members of the victims of the Maseru Massacres – in what appears to be a deliberate erasure of the two cross-border raids in the annals of South Africa’s liberation heritage history, and the continuous undermining, sidelining and silencing of the voices and stories of the survivors and affected family members. This has often led/leads to a prevalent distorted narrative of the human-interest stories and history of the Maseru Massacres.

About the 1982 and 1985 Maseru Massacres

On December 9, 1982 – the then South African Defence Force (SADF) soldiers and its officers crossed the South African border into Maseru, Lesotho and carried out one of the bloodiest cross-border raids in the history of apartheid South Africa. The raid was dubbed (by the SADF) as “Operation Blanket.”

Homes and settlements where members of the African National Congress (ANC) and its military wing, Umkhonto Wesizwe (MK) resided were raided – killing a total of 42 people, comprising 30 South Africans and 12 Basotho.

Three years later, on December 19, 1985 – another ghastly cross-border raid was carried out by the SADF in Maseru – where six (6) South African political refugees, most of them members of the ANC and Umkhonto Wesizwe and three (3) Lesotho nationals were fatally shot.

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