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Thursday, 11 April, 2002

Honouring Nkosi Johnson

Statement by André Gaum, Western Cape Minister of Education.

South Africa's brave young anti-AIDS campaigner, Nkosi Johnson, has been posthumously honoured by being declared joint winner of the World Children's Prize for 2002 for his struggle on behalf of the rights of children living with HIV/AIDS.

This prize, widely regarded as the "children's Nobel prize", is awarded for dedication in the fight for children's rights, and although we grieve for Nkosi's death at such a young age, it is deeply gratifying that he has received such signal recognition for his commitment and determination to help all children in the deadly plight that he himself knew only too well.

The Western Cape Education Department has long been committed to a vigorous anti-AIDS campaign on several fronts.

In March this year, I asked schools to mobilise their learners to vote for Nkosi for this award, and I also called on my MEC counterparts in the other eight provinces to do the same in their jurisdictions.

Since the candidates' home votes were part of the prize jury's selection process, it is clear that Nkosi received strong support from South Africa's young people, and I wish to congratulate everyone, old and young, who played a part in mustering and expressing this support.

May all of us be inspired by Nkosi Johnson's all-too-brief but shining example of service and dedication, to commit ourselves anew to the vitally urgent challenge of overcoming the menace that HIV/AIDS poses to the young people of our province and our country.

Issued by:
The Communications Directorate
Western Cape Education Department
Private Bag X9114
Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 467-2531
Fax: (021) 467-2363
Email: pattwell@pawc.wcape.gov.za
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