Remains of executed PAC activists exhumed, reunited with relatives

2017-09-01 07:20
Siyanda Madikane speaks to the remains of his grandfather's brother Lennox Madikane who was hanged in 1963 and buried in a pauper grave. (Alex Nitchley, News24)

Siyanda Madikane speaks to the remains of his grandfather's brother Lennox Madikane who was hanged in 1963 and buried in a pauper grave. (Alex Nitchley, News24)

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Pretoria - Siyanda Madikane climbed into his great uncle's unmarked grave to speak to him and collect the dirt around brittle bones.

"We are here for you, we are coming to take you home to lie next to your father, your brothers, your uncles, everyone," said Madikane on Thursday

Lennox Mngambi Madikane - his uncle - was executed by hanging when he was only 25 years old on November 1, 1963.

Lennox was among 10 Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) members who were executed for political crimes and buried in unmarked graves in the Mamelodi West Cemetery in Pretoria, more than 50 years ago.

The members who were part of the PAC's armed wing, Poqo, were hanged during 1963 to 1967. Their graves were exhumed on Thursday.

READ: Closure for families of hanged UDF 8 as remains are exhumed

After their execution, their bodies became the property of the state and were buried in unmarked graves, which were never revealed to the families.

Madikane said his grandfather was tormented by his brother's murder. He said it pained him that his uncle died for democracy and was now forgotten.

"Those who passed away at that time, no one is thinking about them, only those who are alive are honoured," he said.

'Released from prison'

PAC national chairperson Phillip Dlamini said the exhumations are significant for the liberation movement.

"They are being released from prison, because when you are sentenced to death, you are a prisoner, even in the grave.

"We will never find closure as a liberation movement and as soldiers, there will be no peace without the return of those bodies."

Madeleine Fullard, head of missing persons' task team in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said these exhumations were significant.

"Many people paid the ultimate price for the democracy that we have today and those families that were directly affected have been in a state of limbo, not knowing what happened, the person just vanished into thin air."

The exhumations form part of the Gallows Exhumation Project, aimed at recovering the remains of 130 political prisoners who were hanged on the gallows.

The death penalty was abolished in 1990.

The NPA is working in conjunction with Truth and Reconciliation Commission unit in the Department of Justice.

The PAC members executed were:



Date executed

Vezile Jaxa


November 1 1963

Lennox Mngambi Madikane


November 1 1963

Mxolisi Damane


November 1 1963

Gadavu Johannes Notyawe


October 14 1963

Gqibile Nicholas Hans


May 30 1967

Baden Koboka


May 30 1967

Jabavu Jonas Mzondi


May 30 1967

Livingstone Fatyela


May 30 1967

Bongezile Edward Sikundla


May 30 1967

Msimasi Wellington Tyobeka


May 30 1967


Read more on:    npa  |  pac  |  pretoria

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