Museum to honour political prisoners

2011-12-15 00:00

AN estimated 10 political prisoners from KwaZulu-Natal were among the 134 executed at Pretoria Central Prison that will be honoured by President Jacob Zuma with the opening of a museum in their honour in Pretoria today.

They were executed during the apartheid regime.

A statement issued by the presidency yesterday said the initiative, known as the Gallows Memorialisation Project, will see a wall erected in the gallows with individual plaques in remembrance of each of the executed prisoners.

Although a specific figure was not available at the time of going to press, national spokesperson for the Department of Correctional Services, Sbongile Khumalo, confirmed that among those 134 names, about 10 are from the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Famous among the prisoners are three uMkhonto Wesizwe activists from KZN.

Sibusiso Andrew Zondo of KwaMashu township in Durban, who was executed in September 1986 after being convicted of bombing the Sanlam Centre in Amanzimtoti.

Five people, including three adults and two kids, were fatally wounded.

Zondo was executed on the same day as two other MK KwaZulu-Natalians, Sipho “MaChina” Xulu of Sobantu township in Pietermaritzburg and Clarence Lucky Payi also from Pietermaritzburg.

The duo were given the death penalty for the murder of another MK operative Benjamin Langa.

Langa had played a prominent role in recruiting the duo to MK military training.

Reports that emerged in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) revealed that the order to kill Langa came from Cyril Raymond, who claimed that Langa was an apartheid spy.

But it was Raymond who later turned out to be the double agent.

The three, Zondo, Xulu and Payi, were reburied in 2005 after their graves were identified and DNA testing linked them to their family members.

The gallows at the prison, now known as the C-Max Correctional Centre, were dismantled in 1996 and were recently restored at the insistence of the Correctional Services minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

The centre will become a memorial museum to honour the executed political prisoners.

Correctional Services, with the assistance of the affected political parties, NGOs and other government departments contacted the families of the executed political prisoners to ensure they played a central role in the restoration of the gallows.

Two members from each family had been brought to Pretoria to visit the gallows and partake in a cleansing ceremony that took place yesterday.

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