Deputy President David Mabuza paid homage to Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu, an esteemed member of the Order of Mendi for Bravery, during a commemoration event on 6 April 2018 at Kgoši Mampuru II Management Area, to mark 39 years since his death by hanging. The Deputy President was accompanied by Minister Michael Masutha, Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla, other members of the National Executive as well as a large contingent of struggle luminaries from Mahlangu’s political home, the African National Congress and other formations that were in the forefront of the struggle for freedom.
The group first toured the gallows, also referred to as South Africa’s death factory, to reconnect and retrace the final steps of Solomon Mahlangu and other freedom fighters who met their cruel demise at the hands of the apartheid regime.
Mabuza said that the commemoration was not only in honour of of Solomon Mahlangu, but all those who perished in the apartheid gallows. He also paid tribute to Monty Motloung who was arrested with Solomon Mahlangu and who was brutally tortured to the extent that he was unfit to stand trial. Mabuza requested that the DCS record everything related to all prisoners of conscience who perished in apartheid jails, either by torture or execution, and make this historical information available to our institutions of learning, the media and the general public.
Minister Masutha thanked all who came to celebrate a life well-lived and to commemorate a struggle well-fought.
Deputy Minister Makwetla said the gathering was a way of recollecting just how bitter the struggle was to end white minority domination in the country. He paid tribute to another struggle icon, Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who drew her last breathe on Monday, 02 April 2018. “This day enriches what we are going through, because when you talk about the life and times ofWinifred Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela, and when you talk about the life story of Solomon Mahlangu, you are talking of people who are an embodiment or a representation of the highest watermark in our people’s commitment, selflessness, bravery and courage in the fight to end apartheid,” he said.
Prince George Mahlangu spoke on behalf of the Mahlangu family and acknowledged the support that DCS has given the Mahlangu family through the years. He said Solomon was a symbol of the freedom that all the other heroes fought for. “We acknowledge the role that they have played in ensuring that we achieve this freedom, which we must not take for granted.”
Retired army general and former Chief of Staff of Umkhonto we Sizwe, Siphiwe Nyanda recounted the brief yet profound impact that Solomon Mahlangu had on him when they were both exiled in Mozambique. Nyanda had encountered Mahlangu in May 1977 in Mozambique when he was tasked to send two units to Pretoria and Soweto as part of the first commemoration of the June 16 uprisings. He said Mahlangu’s unit was destined for Pretoria and their mission was to engage the enemy in surprise armed action.
What astounded him was Mahlangu’s reluctance to be sent on the mission with his childhood friends, preferring instead to be deployed with Monty Motloung and George Mahlangu whom he had met in exile. “Solomon understood that the struggle came first, family and friends next,” said Nyanda. He said that Solomon Mahlangu’s death by execution solicited worldwide condemnation of the apartheid regime, and caused grief and anger in their ranks and among the people. “We in Umkhonto we Sizwe grieved, we were angry too, but we were also inspired and motivated. Solomon Mahlangu had charged us to fight on,” he remarked. He said Mahlangu strode to the grim gallows of the apartheid hangmen unbowed, and defiantly said, “my blood will water the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom”.