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President Jacob Zuma has described struggle stalwart Reginald September, who died last weekend, as a formidable leader who left behind a legacy of continually striving for a united and non-racial society.

“In his memory, let us also continue to advance democracy and a better life for all especially the poor and the working class. These are the ideals that we fought for, for so many years … in his memory, let us continue to defend the rights of the poor and the vulnerable.”

Zuma was speaking in Johannesburg on Saturday at the special provincial official funeral of September. The 90-year-old died in Cape Town last weekend.

He said many of South Africa’s fallen heroes and heroines had sacrificed to achieve an inclusive society in which every man, woman and child, regardless of race, colour or creed, felt a sense of belonging to this beautiful country.

“We must build a society in which each one of us, is our neighbours' keeper, in the spirit of Ubuntu. We must build a caring society, and prevent ills such as violence against women and children, not only during the 16 Days of Activism against this scourge, but every other day,” he said.

The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children is an international campaign which takes place every year from 25 November to 10 December. During this time, communities are made aware of the negative impact of violence on women and children and to act against abuse.

Zuma said a society in which a six-week old baby was raped was not the type of society struggle stalwarts like September had died for.

The nation was outraged at reports of a newborn baby being raped in the Northern Cape earlier this week.

The President said work was needed to promote stronger family structures and stronger cohesive communities that can prevent such “abhorrent incidents”.

Using the National Development Plan as a guide, Zuma said, South Africa must build a society in which young people have more jobs and more economic generating opportunities. –