The community of Sharpeville is still home to many unemployed and poor despite Human Rights Day centering around events in the area, DA leader Mmusi Maimane has said.
"Sharpeville today is still a dormitory of unemployed labour. It is still a place where people struggle every day to make ends meet and put food on the table for their families. It is still a place where people are not yet free," he said on Thursday at the party's Human Rights Day event in Bekkersdal, Gauteng.
Maimane and his party celebrated the day where 59 years ago, 69 people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured in Sharpeville as they protested the Apartheid government's pass laws and the carrying of pass books.
Many of them were shot in the back that day as they fled from police.
Maimane said there were hundreds of other places just like Sharpeville all across SA, where people were still "desperately waiting for their freedom".
"Almost four out of ten South Africans cannot find work. Four out of ten homes in our country do not have a single job and rely solely on social grants and remittances to sustain the whole household. These people were promised all the rights contained in our Constitution, and yet they live like outsiders in their own country."
Maimane said the poor were relegated to second best.
"They have to watch as those with the right connections, those with the right education, those with wealth and access to capital progress in life, while they fall further and further behind."
He said the poor and poverty stricken had to watch their children grow up in a new, democratic SA "with little more to look forward to than they themselves had all those years ago".
"This is why the struggle is not yet won. The pass laws may have been beaten, but there are new causes for which we must march and for which we must fight."
He added that it was vital to remember the victims of Sharpeville.
"They helped deliver the free and democratic South Africa of today. They died for our freedom, they died for our Constitution and they died for our Bill of Rights. We celebrate Human Rights Day because we must never forget the heavy price that was paid for these things."