By Mogomotsi Magome

Families of six PAC activists hanged by the apartheid government more than 40 years ago are close to getting closure after their remains were exhumed in Pretoria yesterday.

Known as the Langa Six, five of them were hanged after being convicted for their involvement in an attack on police vehicles in Langa, Western Cape.

A sixth member was convicted of a similar crime in a separate incident.

The remains of Zibongile Dodo, 29, Nontasi Shweni, 36, Mountain Ngantweni, 26, Bhidekile Ntsabo, 29, Veyishile Qoba, 28, and Mqokeleli Nqulwana, 28, will now undergo forensic tests to confirm their identities.

They will then be handed over to their families to get a decent and dignified burial after they were buried as paupers by the apartheid government after being hanged.

Their families were among those who attended the ceremony yesterday, along with members and veterans of the organisation.

Their families expressed relief that the process of finding their remains had been successful and that they would now be able to bury them properly.

"We are very thankful for the work that has been done by the NPA to find their remains.

"Now we can actually see some light because all these years we have been wondering whether they will ever be found.

"We will now be able to bury them according to our culture and beliefs, just as we had hoped," said Guduka Qoba, a brother.

"We are also hopeful that many other people who went missing during the Struggle for liberation will be found and that their families can have an opportunity to give them dignified funerals

"We also hope that the ideals for which these men sacrificed their lives, which includes the return of our land to its rightful owners, can be achieved some day," said Nqulwana's nephew, Monde.

The exhumation process was made possible through investigations, research and collaboration between, among others, the National Prosecuting Authority and the TRC task team in the Justice Department.

TRC task team head Mochubela Seekoe said the process of finding missing persons was slow and complicated, because many records had been destroyed.

"When the apartheid government was toppled, they destroyed many records so that the truth about these people's whereabouts may never be known.

"Many of the perpetrators are also not willing to disclose information, so it is very difficult to find them. Once they have had a change of heart, some of the perpetrators co-operated, so that helps," said Seekoe.

He added that the TRC had handed over a list of about 500 people who were missing and the Langa Six's discovery brought to 160 the number of people who had been found.