Mahlangu’s values upheld in calls to political leaders, society

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The values of struggle hero Solomon Mahlangu have been the focus of calls to political leaders and society. On this day 45 years ago, Mahlangu was hanged by the apartheid government for treason and murder.

Today, his contribution to South Africa’s vibrant democracy was recognised at an event to mark his passing.

45 years ago, an autumn Friday marked a turning point for the country. Less than three years earlier, Soweto pupils had risen en masse against the apartheid government.

In June 1976, students from Soweto to Langa in the Western Cape protested against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction. This protest began to snowball in the years that followed.

In April 1979, Solomon Mahlangu, then 23 years old, walked quietly to the gallows of Pretoria Central Prison. He had been found guilty of treason and murder after a shootout with police in Johannesburg. He never fired a shot but was arrested, tried, and convicted nonetheless.

Today words of praise poured in: selflessness, courageous, and vibrant were some of the adjectives used.

“They have exhumed the remains of Solomon Mahlangu by burying them in Atteridgeville, and they remained there until 1991 when the ANC Youth League got onto the project of repatriating the remains of comrade Solomon Mahlangu from Atterdgeville. It is the Youth League that brought back the story.”

George Mahlangu, leader of the Sokhulumi Traditional Authority, says Solomon Mahlangu was a disciplined person, who respected his elders and the community.

Mahlangu describes Solomon as a revolutionary and a fighter. “With those words, I would like to thank all of you who have gathered here with us when we commemorate one of our own. Solomon is an inspiration and when you are truly inspired your behaviour will show accordingly.”

ANC Youth League regional secretary, Onkgopotse Thompson-Peete, says the youth can learn from Mahlangu’s commitment to find a better political dispensation for all.

“Many young black people here in Tshwane enjoy the benefits of being employed in institutions they never thought they would be employed, particularly here in Tshwane. In all these Embassies there are young people who are black from disadvantaged families and all that who are employed here because of the bravery of comrade Solomon Mahlangu.”

Solomon Mahlangu was hanged in the Pretoria Central Prison on the 6th of April 1979. “Tell my people that I love them and that they must continue to fight, my blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom” were his final words.

-Reporting by Nonhlanhla Ntshingila