Remembering Mahlangu through film

Friday, June 30, 2017

Pretoria - Renowned South African youth activist Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu would be celebrating his 61st birthday next week, had he lived.

Mahlangu, a struggle icon of note among the young people of his time, was sentenced to death by hanging on 2 March 1978.  He was born in Mamelodi outside Tshwane on 10 July 1956 and government is planning a series of activities to celebrate this icon.

Throughout the month of June, which is also observed as Youth Month, the Deputy Minister of Communications Tandi Mahambehlala in partnership with the Film and Publication Board (FBP), has been crisscrossing the country encouraging dialogue about the life of Mahlangu through the screening of the film Kalushi.

The film, directed by Mandla Dube, tells the story of 19-year old Mahlangu who goes into exile following the 1976 Soweto uprisings to join the liberation movement. He returns from military training in Angola but en route to their mission, his friend and comrade loses control and shoots two innocent people on Goch Street in Johannesburg. Mondi is severely beaten and tortured.  Kalushi is forced to stand trial under the common purpose doctrine. The state seeks the highest punishment from the court, death by hanging.

The film is still in cinemas nationwide and will only be release to television in September.

On Friday, Deputy Minister Mahambehlala took the film to Mahlangu’s home of Mamelodi where the youth in the area were given an opportunity to watch the story. The film has been classified as violent and has an age restriction of 16. Some children, as young as 10 who wanted to watch the film were left disappointed when they were turned away from the screening venue. The FBP has emphasised the importance of adhering to age restriction for all films and any other content that appears on television.

Speaking ahead of the film screening, Deputy Minister Mahambehlala said it was important for local film producers to tell a South African story.

“Our responsibility is to converse about our leaders and heroes. We need to tell their stories that will help build the current crop of young leaders. Films like Kalushi help us convey this story,” Deputy Minister Mahambehlala said.

“It is important for the young people throughout the country to have access to this film and ensure that they understand the story and appreciate the sacrifices made by people like Mahlangu,” she said.

Also speaking at the event, Deputy Minister in the Presidency Bhuti Manamela describe Mahlangu as one who represented a rare crop of selfless leadership.

“He was prepared to sacrifice his life for the freedoms we enjoy today but very few young people know this hero,” Deputy Manamela said. He congratulated the producers and directors of Kalushi saying films play an important role in capturing and preserving unique South African stories.

“It is important to tell our stories in films and it is through these films that young people will have access to our history which is fast being forgotten,” said Deputy Manamela. –


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