The life, times and last moments of struggle icon Solomon “Kalushi” Mahlangu came under the spotlight when government and the Mahlangu family observed the 40th anniversary of his execution.
The commemoration on Saturday began with a walkabout at the gallows of Kgosi Mampuru prison where Solomon took his last 52 steps before he was brutally hanged by the then apartheid government.
This was followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the Mamelodi West Cemetery, where Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Acting Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi and NYDA Chairperson Sfiso Msweni paid their tributes as they reflected on his life.
Mthethwa said Mahlangu will always be remembered as a unique example of a bold revolutionary leader, who embodied the great traditions of the liberation movement. These, he said, include selflessness, dedication, discipline, hard work, loyalty to the cause and commitment to the service of the people.
“We are inspired by this revolutionary hero who sacrificed his life for humanity. Mahlangu never fought for fame or to be rewarded. Mahlangu made an indelible contribution when it was not fashionable to be a comrade.”
In Mahlangu’s honour, Mthethwa said government remains committed to making great strides in the transformation, reconstruction and development – despite the challenges unemployment, poverty and inequality.
The Minister went on to challenge young people to keep the legacy of the struggle stalwarts- like Mahlangu- alive by taking advantage of opportunities to build the country and change their lives.
“The tasks of the youth today. Young people should join the ranks of active and responsible citizens by participating positively in democratic structures and processes like the coming elections.
“They should cherish and jealously protect schools, libraries and other centres of learning,” Mthethwa added.
The 22-year-old Umkhonto we Sizwe combatant was born on July 10, 1956. He was one of 134 political prisoners convicted and sentenced to death at the Pretoria Central Prison.
He was tried and convicted of two murders and three counts under the Terrorism Act, after being arrested in 1977 upon his return from Mozambique and Angola where he underwent training to assist in the student protests at the time. He was hanged on 6 April in 1979.
His commemoration was held under the theme: “The Fruits of Freedom on the 25th Anniversary of Democracy.” – SAnews.gov.za