Ex-MK member Mahlangu's remains exhumed

2011-06-15 18:03

Johannesburg - The remains of missing Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) activist Patrick Mahlangu, who was killed by apartheid security police in 1986, was exhumed on Wednesday at the Soshanguve cemetery, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said.

"It was quite an emotional experience, as family members sat over the grave and prayed during the exhumation," spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said.

"We managed to exhume his remains in the presence of his whole family - his wife and two brothers. They were pleased that finally he was located.

"In the grave, we found fragmented bones that were in plastic bags. What we found is consistent with the manner in which he was killed."

Twenty five years ago, Mahlangu was abducted, strangled to death and his body blown up by members of the then security police.

Black plastic bags containing human remains showing signs of massive trauma from an explosion, were located earlier this month by the task team in a grave allocated to a pauper in Soshanguve cemetery.

Blown up

Mahlangu was operating underground structures in Mamelodi at the time of his disappearance from his home on the night of March 18, 1986.

"...Men pretending to be MK cadres (askaris) took him away. During the TRC amnesty hearing by members of the Security Police and askaris, it was revealed that he was taken to a private farm Soutpan near Warmbaths (now Bela-Bela) where he was interrogated about his MK activities and assaulted," the NPA said.

MK was the military wing of the ANC.

A decision was taken that he should be killed as it was believed that the identity of certain informers or askaris had been exposed. He was then taken in a kombi to a railway line near Northam where he was strangled.

When they realised that he was still alive, one of them killed him by stepping on his throat. His body was then blown up next to the railway line to give the impression that he had accidentally blown himself up while trying to plant explosives on the railway line."

Proper burial

His highly fragmented remains were then subsequently found and reported to local police by members of the public. They were sent to Medunsa for forensic examination.

"Investigations indicate that these fragmented remains were then buried in a pauper's grave at Soshanguve Cemetery by Rambau's Undertakers.

"The NPA's Missing Persons Task Team have worked on finding his remains since 2005, and finally succeeded this month after several earlier unsuccessful excavations."

Mhaga said even though the NPA was confident that these was Mahlangu's remains, forensic tests would still be conducted to "be 100% sure".

Mahlangu's remains would then be handed over to his family for proper reburial.

Others present at Wednesday's exhumation included umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association members who assisted with digging up the grave.

- SAPA
Read more on:    umkhonto we sizwe  |  anc
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