Pretoria - The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) and the Young Communist League (YCL) have demanded that an inquest into Struggle stalwart Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu’s death be reopened.
The Umkhonto We Sizwe operative died on April 6, 1979, at the age of 22. He had been convicted for murder and terrorism during the apartheid era.
ANC senior official Dr Gwen Ramokgopa, who insisted yesterday that the apartheid regime did not kill Mahlangu because his spirit continued to live on, supported the ANCYL and YCL’s call.
Speaking to the Pretoria News yesterday, Ramakgopa said she endorsed the idea of re-opening the inquest.
She said: “It was heartening that the event was organised by the youth, and with the support of the Mahlangu’s family, they went to the police station to demand that an inquest be opened. “This is important because we are told that he was also shot after being hanged just to make sure he was dead. So we must demand an inquest so that the family finds closure.”
Ramokgopa, who is the co-ordinator in the ANC secretary-general’s office, was addressing the audience during the 43rd commemoration of Mahlangu’s death.
The commemoration included wreath-laying at Mahlangu’s final resting place at Mamelodi West Cemetery. It also involved the retracing of the 52 steps that led him to the gallows at Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre in Pretoria.
The Struggle icon took the same steps before he was hanged.
“When we walked those footsteps that Mahlangu walked when going to his death, it was just unbelievable that such a young man went through what he did,” Ramokgopa said.
“We should live and honour the lives of those who paid the ultimate price.”
Ramokgopa described Mahlangu as a passionate, dependable and courageous young man, who had a vision.
The ceremony began at Kgosi Mampuru prison and ended at the Pretoria West Police Station following a march. Gauteng deputy ANC chairperson and Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, who is eyeing the position of provincial chairperson in the upcoming conference, was also in attendance.
The freedom fighter, Struggle activist and operative of the ANC military wing, was charged with two counts of murder and several charges under the then terrorism act.
In June 1977, Mahlangu and his two comrades, George Mahlangu and Monday Motloung, were accosted by security police on Goch Street in Johannesburg.
In the ensuing gun battle, two civilian men were killed by stray bullets while two others were wounded. Mahlangu and Motloung were arrested. George Mahlangu escaped.