Paul Kruger, president of the old ZAR during the Anglo-Boer War. The 1899-1902 conflict, Britain's last great imperial crusade, cost more than 70 000 lives. The 100th anniversary of the start of the war will be on October 11.

South Africa will, within the next week, commence the exhumation of 83 political prisoners who were previously hanged at the then Pretoria Central Prison during the apartheid era, Justice Minister Michael Masutha announced on Wednesday.

Speaking at the launch of the gallows exhumation project at the Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre in Pretoria, Masutha said the dignity of at least 83 of the 130 people who were hanged for politically-related offences between 1960 and 1990 will be restored from April 4 when the Missing Persons Task Team in the National Prosecuting Authority will be conducting the exhumations of their remains.

At least 130 people were hanged for politically-related offences between 1960 and 1990. The remains of 47 of mainly members of the Pan Africanist Congress and United Democratic Front anti-apartheid organisations had been exhumed at various stages, while 83 of them remain buried in unmarked graves.

“Our Truth and Reconciliation Unit and various provincial governments will then arrange for the remains to be formally handed over to the families for dignified reburials,” said Masutha.

Those sentenced to death were transferred to Kgosi Mampuru II, then known as Pretoria Central Maximum Security prison, for execution.

Famous people who were executed at the gallows include Solomon Mahlangu, Benjamin Moloise, Michael Lucas, and Thelle Simon Mogoerane while others such as suspended Independent Police Investigative Directorate head Robert McBride were reprieved.

They were buried in unmarked graves at Mamelodi West and Rebecca Street cemeteries. Of the 83 human remains, 69 are buried in Mamelodi West and 14 at Rebecca Street.

Madeleine Fullard, head of the NPA’s missing persons task team, said they had partial records of where the bodies were buried.

In February 1990, President FW de Klerk declared a moratorium on executions in the country, while the death penalty itself was abolished in 1995.

Sunday Independent