THE man who tried to blow up Joburg’s Carlton Centre at the height of the apartheid era in 1977 blew his brains out at his Hammanskraal home on Thursday.

Isaac Mohlolo Siko was found slumped in his chair by a helper who was busy inside the house when she heard a gunshot. He was 63.

Siko recently took early retirement as group executive manager of seven divisions of the Defence Science and Technology Institutes (Armscor Defence Institute).

His twin sister Irene said the family were baffled at the manner of his death as he left no note.

“We do not know what led him to kill himself. We’re still trying to come to terms with his death and would ask that we be given some privacy time to mourn his death,” said Irene.

On the morning of December 7, 1977, Siko exploded a bomb in front of the Boulevard Restaurant at the Carlton Centre. His right hand was blown off in the explosion and several people were injured. Siko was sentenced to 12 years on Robben Island.

He told a Delmas court that he had done what he did with the “highest patriotic motives for the good of his people” and, he believed, “for the good of white South Africans as well”.

Police claimed during the former Wits University student’s trial that he had been trained by Wellington Tshazibane, an Oxford University engineering graduate, who was arrested three days after the Carlton Centre bombing and died in detention.

Police claimed Siko had been trained by Tshazibane in the use of explosives and that he had bombed a white doctor’s surgery at Klipspruit, Soweto, on November 5, 1977.

Siko told the court he had thrown the bomb he had made into the surgery to test its usefulness. He had exploded the bombs in the hope of shaking the authorities into effecting meaningful reforms to improve living conditions in Soweto.

Until June 16, 1976, Siko had never supported any political party, and had decided to use his skills to produce the inflammable devices to help pupils fight against the authorities.

During his time on Robben Island, Siko amassed several degrees via correspondence.

After prison, he was deployed in the SA Navy, where he occupied various senior positions.