NPA to exhume bodies of 9 Cato Manor residents hanged by apartheid government
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Durban - Fifty-eight years after they were hanged and buried as paupers by the brutal apartheid regime, nine community members of Cato Manor who resisted some apartheid laws would be exhumed for dignified reburials.
The exhuming process was conducted on Thursday by the TRC Unit in the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Missing Persons Task Team (MPTT) of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
The nine were hanged after being accused of killing nine apartheid police officers on 24 January 1960.
This was a result of raid on the informal settlement by black and white police officers to enforce apartheid laws, including pass laws and liquor legislation.
The raid was one of several targeting the settlement over several months for a range of apartheid offences. Approximately 32 arrests were made that afternoon.
However, during the raid, police officers clashed with residents who were resisting what they deemed as 'ill-treatment'.
The police fired shots and one resident was shot dead. This enraged the community and they stoned and stabbed the police officers, who had retreated to two small rooms.
In that deadly confrontation, nine police officers were killed while nine managed to escape although several were badly injured.
Kholiswa Mdhluli from the NPA said after taking in about 300 people for questioning, 29 persons faced charges of murder.
“One died in prison before the trial began, one was discharged, and another had his trial separated due to illness. Of the remaining twenty six trialists, eight were acquitted, and eight were sent to prison. Ten trialists were sentenced to death, one of whom later managed to successfully appeal against his death sentence. The other appeals were dismissed, and nine Cato Manor residents were hanged on 5 September 1961,” Mdhluli said.
Those who were hanged were: Thembinkosi Schoolboy Mthembu, Fanozi Brian Mgubungu, Msayineke Daniel Khuzwayo, Sililo Joseph Miya, Payiyana Dladla, Mahemu Goqo, Maqandeni Lushozi, Thompson Chamane and Mhlawungeni Joe Khuzwayo.
The exhumed bodies would be kept by the state until early next year where there would be a ceremony to hand over the bodies to the families for dignified burials. The mass handover gathering would be held on January 5 in Durban.
Information archived by KwaMuhle Museum in Durban shows that by 1964, after the deadly resistance and riots, the apartheid government was eventually able to dismantle the Cato Manor informal settlement.
Some of the people were moved to KwaMashu, Lamontville and Umlazi townships which were established only for black people. The Indian community was moved to Chatsworth.
The area was then re-zoned as a whites-only enclave but was largely vacant until the University of KwaZulu-Natal acquired some parts of the land.