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Iconic Apartheid victim’s sister ditches S.Africa’s ANC

The sister of a young boy whose apartheid-era death heightened global opposition against South Africa’s white-minority rule, has left the ruling ANC for the main opposition, the party announced Thursday.

Lulu Pieterson, whose brother Hector was shot dead by white police in 1976, has lost faith in the African National Congress, said Democratic Alliance spokesman Mmusi Maimane.

Twelve-year-old Hector Pieterson was among the 23 who died on the first day of demonstrations for better education in the Johannesburg shantytown.

The shocking photo of the young boy being carried in a student’s arms sent shock waves around the world and intensified international opposition against the regime.

“Lulu expressed confidence that the DA is the party to take South Africa forward,” said Maimane at a memorial on the site where white police opened fire on protesting students on June 16, 1976.

“Like so many others, she is disillusioned with the corruption of Jacob Zuma’s ANC that reserves the best opportunities for the connected few,” he added.

Liberation movement the ANC has been in power since the first democratic elections in 1994, but rampant unemployment and stubborn inequality has dimmed its sheen with an impatient electorate 20 years on.

Recent scandals, including state-paid renovations worth $20 million (15 million euros) to President Jacob Zuma’s private home, have also raised frustration levels that bled its support.

Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, the king of Nelson Mandela’s tribe, joined the DA last year, while former president Thabo Mbeki’s mother Epainette threw in her weight with Cope, another opposition party.

Mamphela Ramphele, renowned activist and academic who was the companion of black consciousness leader Steve Biko, started her own party last year before this week accepting to run as the DA’s presidential candidate in upcoming elections.

Pollsters predict the ANC, which won nearly two-thirds of the vote in 2009 general polls, will likely see its support drop to below 60 percent in general elections expected in April or May.