Solomon Mahlangu's restless spirit 'seeking relief', family demands R3 million from Tshwane for replacing tombstone
The family of struggle icon Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu is demanding R3 million in damages from the Tshwane municipality after it replaced the hero's tombstone - allegedly without the family's permission - and which spoilt an appeasement ritual they perform at the grave every year.
In the letter of demand, seen by The Times, the family said they were surprised to find a new tombstone when they visited the grave to perform the ritual, which is aimed at appeasing Mahlangu's "restless spirit" caused by the circumstances surrounding his death, secret burial, exhumation and reburial.
Mahlangu, an ANC military wing Umkhonto weSizwe cadre, was hanged in Pretoria on April 6 1979 after he was convicted of murder and charges under the Terrorism Act.
He was buried in Atteridgeville because police feared crowd reaction at the funeral, but he was reburied in Mamelodi in 1993.
A source close to the family said the original tombstone had been erected with consultation and was installed in a way that gave the family access to the grave's soil for their ritual.
The source said Mahlangu's restless spirit was troubling the family because they were unable to perform the ritual.
Family spokesman Gideon Mahlangu said the matter was being handled by their lawyers.
The letter of demand from Lehodi Nkoana Attorneys states: "...our client suffered serious trauma, emotional shock and psychological effects as such they still continue to suffer as the deceased continues to bother them and causes them to experience sleepless nights."
Nkoana said the municipality had until October 3 to respond.
Selby Bokaba, Tshwane municipality spokesman, said its legal services department had not received any letter of demand.
However, The Times can reveal the letter, delivered by hand, was received by the municipality's litigation section of the legal services on September 14 at 1.53pm.
"There is no such a letter in our records and there shouldn't be such a letter to start with, as what we did was to improve and beautify the grave according to the wishes of the family after we had consulted with them," Bokaba said.
"Therefore, there wouldn't be a basis for a letter of demand.
"I reiterate that we have not received such a letter," he said.
Bokaba said Mahlangu's family was consulted on April 15 and they agreed with the proposals to erect a complete headstone with a head and base.
"Subsequent to that, they requested we add a photo of Solomon Mahlangu on top of the base, as well as the emblems of the SA National Civic Organisation and Umkhonto weSizwe," he said.
"It would have been irresponsible and insensitive of us to [not to consult], hence I'm able to give you the exact date on which the family was consulted," Bokaba said.