Remains of 12 UDF political prisoners handed over to families

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Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha is pleading with families of other unknown deceased political prisoners, who have not yet been found, to be more patient with the government as the list is long.

The process to exhume and identify executed political prisoners is continuing.

Masutha was speaking at the hand-over ceremony of 12 United Democratic Front (UDF) political prisoners who were hanged at the Kgosi Mampuru gallows for their political activities during the turbulent 1980s in the Eastern Cape.

Fezeka Dyakala came to receive the remains of her brother, Kholisile Dyakala. He was hanged in 1988 for suspected murder.

Closure has come for the families. Dyakala says the family is pleased by the remains given to them.

“This is the day we will never forget we are pleased that my brother has finally been buried, its painful but we are very glad at least”

Masutha refuted claims that the government is only focusing on exhuming bodies of political prisoners aligned to the ruling party.

He says legislation compels the government to provide equal recognition to fallen freedom fighters, regardless of their political affiliation.

“We don’t choose any party, we are guided by the laws. In fact the first body to be exhumed comes from the poqo or PAC.  TRC doesn’t allow us that we, government, give anyone who fought for the struggle against oppression recognition, particularly of you were killed during the apartheid regime – that is our task since this program was introduced.”

This handover is part of the gallows project which will see 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 130 political prisoners were hanged at the gallows between 1960 and 1990.