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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 593

Paragraph Numbers 227 to 232

Volume 3

Chapter 6

Subsection 33

227 Mr Solomon Mahlangu, a twenty-year-old standard nine pupil who fled South Africa in February 1976 and Mr Monty Motaung formed one of the first MK units from the new generation of Soweto recruits to be infiltrated back into South Africa. They killed Mr Rupert Kessner and Mr Kenneth Wolfendale in John Orr’s Goch Street warehouse in July 1977, shortly after being confronted by police. Mahlangu and Motaung were charged under the Sabotage Act. Mahlangu was convicted and sentenced to death for his part in the incident. He was hanged in 1979, one of 133 people executed in that year. Motaung was beaten so severely by the police that he suffered brain damage and was declared unfit to stand trial.

228 Solomon’s mother, Ms Martha Yebona Mahlangu [JB00182/02PS], told the Commission that she had been unaware that her son had any interest in politics. He had not told his parents of his decision to leave the country for military training. She simply received a message telling her not to look for her son.

229 Ms Mahlangu heard of her son’s involvement in the killing of Mr Kessner and Mr Wolfendale on the radio:

It was a month before we could really find out that it was him. The only time we got to know was when the police came home to search our home … they didn’t say anything to us and didn’t tell us what they were looking for. After a while they started looking for his clothes and then I asked them if they had found this person whose clothes they were looking for? They said yes, they had found him on the mountains of Middelburg. When I asked if I could go and see him, they said no, they would inform me when I could come and see him. They only came back to me after a month.

230 Ms Mahlangu later went to visit her son at John Vorster Square. She was not able to talk about the case or where he had been. “We just found out how life was and that’s the only thing I asked about.” His last message to her before he was executed was:

Mama, thank you for having been strong to come and visit me and not cry. But where my blood will drop, so many Solomons will grow up because I am innocent.

231 In the 1980 Silverton bank siege in Pretoria on 25 January, Mr Willem de Klerk [JB00697/02PS] lost his wife, Ms Anna de Klerk. Another civilian and three MK operatives were also killed. Members of an MK unit – Mr Stephen Mafoko, Mr Humphrey Makhubo and Mr Wilfred Madela [JBO3888/01GTSOW] – panicked when they realised they had been seen by security force members, entered a bank and held its customers hostage. The police stormed the bank and a gunfight ensued.

232 Mr de Klerk described the events:

At the time of her death, my wife was thirty-eight years old. At that stage I had three sons or in fact three children, Pieter, Schalk and Marche and they were respectively fourteen, twelve and eight years old ... The hostages were, in general, all women and it can therefore be regarded as a very cowardly deed – a deed on a group of defenceless people.
At around seven o’clock that evening, the police task force entered the building and they then freed the hostages. During this process, several people were injured, one person died and my wife was injured ... I also believe that defenceless people who did not have anything to do with the political struggle and that they, surely, had a right to life. They did not form part of the struggle and therefore their lives should not have been at stake ...
It is, perhaps, the duty of each and every South African to contribute to this [truth and reconciliation] and therefore I feel that each and every person who at some stage in the past was a victim should come forward…
I understand why it happened, but I would just like to say that everybody who was part of this, everybody who was part of the planning of this, that they should come forward and say “this is what I did and this is how I contributed and I am now sorry for this”.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THE ANC AND MK RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BOMBINGS IN GOCH STREET IN 1977. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MR SOLOMON MAHLANGU AND MR MONTY MOTAUNG WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATHS OF MR RUPERT KESSNER AND MR KENNETH WOLFENDALE AND FOR THE GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MK MEMBERS MR STEPHEN MAFOKO, MR HUMPHREY MAKHUBO AND MR WILFRED MADELA WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SILVERTON BANK SIEGE IN WHICH TWO CIVILIANS WERE KILLED AND A NUMBER INJURED. IN PARTICULAR THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATHS OF MS ANNA DE KLERK AND ANOTHER CIVILIAN AND ARE THUS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THE ANC AND THE HEAD OF MK RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
 
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