Hanged struggle heroes' remains hailed

07 November 2017 - 06:32 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
DAY OF RECKONINGZwelifumile Mjekula lays a wreath on her brother Nomvula Gitywa's coffin at a handover ceremony of the exhumed remains of executed United Democratic Front activists
DAY OF RECKONINGZwelifumile Mjekula lays a wreath on her brother Nomvula Gitywa's coffin at a handover ceremony of the exhumed remains of executed United Democratic Front activists
Image: Fredlin Adriaan

Kholisile Dyakala was only 33 when he was hanged by the apartheid government and his family did not get a chance to give him a proper burial.

Now, 32 years later, the United Democratic Front political prisoner's family will finally give him a decent funeral and find closure.

Dyakala is one of 13 UDF political prisoners who were sentenced to death and hanged at Kgosi Mampuru in Pretoria.

On Monday, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha handed over the exhumed remains of 12 of them to their families in Port Elizabeth. The 13th prisoner has been buried in Oudtshoorn.

"The group was hanged at the Kgosi Mampuru gallows for incidents that took place during the intense political turmoil in the Eastern Cape between 1985 and 1986," the department said.

"The handover is part of the gallows project, which entails the exhumation, handover and reburial of the remains of 83 political prisoners who were hanged at the Kgosi Mampuru gallows and buried in unmarked graves."

A total of 134 political prisoners were hanged at the gallows between 1960 and 1990.

President Jacob Zuma honoured the executed men last year by opening a memorial museum in their honour.

Known as the Gallows Memorialisation Project, the initiative saw a wall being erected in the gallows with individual plaques in remembrance of each of the prisoners.

The prisoners' bodies were exhumed in August. All families were present and given an opportunity to view their graves and remains.

The other prisoners were Mangena Boesman, Raymond Gwebushe, Ndumiso Siphenuka, Makhezwene Menze, Benjamin Gxothiwe, Zwelidumile Mjekula, Thobile Llyod, Siphiwe Lande, Lungile Rewu, Tsepo Letsoara and Sipho Mahala.

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