“Tell my people that I love them and that they must continue to fight, my blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom.” These were the final words spoken by renowned freedom fighter, Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu, before he was executed by the then apartheid government. Aged 23, Mahlangu, who was a struggle activist and an operative of the African National Congress military wing, Umkhonto weSizwe, was charged and sentenced to death under the terrorism act on 06 April 1979.This year marks the 42nd year commemoration of his death.
The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola and DCS leadership welcomed delegates of the Mahlangu family, ANC Treasurer General Paul Mashatile and Deputy Secretary-General, Jessie Duarte, other dignitaries from the African National Congress, Ministers, Deputy Ministers and MEC’s at the gallows, Kgoši Mampuru Management Area.
Addressing the assembly at the gallows, Mashatile said the commemoration was to honour and show respect to all who had lost their lives fighting for the freedom which black South Africans are enjoying today. Mashatile and Duarte shared the same sentiments that, any person advocating for the death penalty to be returned must visit the gallows to get a real sense of the brutality that used to take place. They urged the youth to visit the gallows in order to understand the history of their country.
Minister Lamola thanked the Mahlangu family and the ANC leadership for honouring the day. He said the Department will always avail its resources in ensuring that the annual commemoration of Solomon Mahlangu is realised and honoured. He also took the opportunity to remind the leading administration that the DCS continues to ensure the safety of all South Africans by safely locking away those who have wronged the law. He indicated that what used to be the then C-Max where Anannius Mathe escaped has now been improved and upgraded to a super maximum, to eliminate any possibility of anyone escaping. “All the troublesome individuals are in there and are receiving appropriate rehabilitation programmes,” he said.