JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Sunday thanked Jewish South Africans for their role in the struggle.
"The Jewish community enjoy a special place in the struggle for democracy and freedom," he said at a SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) Gauteng media briefing in Sandton.
"They were prepared to make sacrifices even if it meant abandoning the privileges of being white people under apartheid."
Lesufi, standing in for Gauteng premier David Makhura, gave the speech on behalf of the provincial government while African National Congress treasurer general Zweli Mkhize was also unable to attend, as expected, due to illness.
Lesufi said citizens from all cultures needed to work together to fight the high levels of poverty and inequality.
Reindustrialisation of Gauteng's economy and transformation would help to address these problems.
"In the next 20 years we hope you will assist us... in ensuring our economy is accessible to everyone."
He said that a recent quality of life survey had shown high levels of violent crime, and hardening attitudes on race and on xenophobia.
"The more challenged we are, the more motivated we are to triumph," Lesufi said.
Members of the Gauteng ANC Youth League held a protest outside the venue where Lesufi was speaking.
The ANCYL protesters held a banner with a large picture of former president Nelson Mandela printed on it, while some waved flags that read "Free Palestine".
Mandela has been quoted as saying: "We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians".
ANCYL provincial chairman Matome Chiloane shouted, "Down with SAJBD, down", which was greeted by cheers.
"South Africa is not going to be free for them if the people of Palestine are not free."
He said the organisation's programme in support of Palestine would be stepped up.