Seeking justice: Families of murdered Cosas 2 plan to sue govt 40 years after their deaths

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Activists Topsy Madaka and Siphiwo Mthimkhulu were kidnapped and murdered by Apartheid police on 14 April 1982.
Activists Topsy Madaka and Siphiwo Mthimkhulu were kidnapped and murdered by Apartheid police on 14 April 1982.
  • It has been 40 years since anti-apartheid activists Topsy Madaka and Siphiwo Mthimkhulu were tortured to death by apartheid police on a Cradock farm. 
  • Decades later, their families still feel betrayed that their killers have never been brought to justice.
  • EFF councillor in Nelson Mandela Bay, Amandlangawethu Madaka, was only five-years-old when his father was killed. 

EFF councillor in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, Amandlangawethu Madaka, was only five-years-old when his father, anti-apartheid activist, Topsy Madaka and his friend, Siphiwo Mthimkhulu, were assassinated by apartheid police on 14 April 1982.

Now, four decades later, their families are tired of waiting for justice that never came, outraged and angry that the killers of their murdered relatives still walk free.

Madaka junior was given the name Amandlangawethu or "power to the people", by his late father when he was born, a mere five years before he and Mthimkhulu were kidnapped and tortured to death on a government farm in Cradock.

Their charred remains were located and recovered from the farm and the pair were buried in Port Elizabeth (now Gqeberha) in October 2009 during a joint funeral service attended by former president Jacob Zuma. 

The remains were located thanks to the findings of the Desmond Tutu-chaired Truth Reconciliation Commission, said Mthimkhulu's younger sister Nozibele Mthimkhulu, 54. 

siphiwo mthimkhulu
An advert of missing Siphiwo Mthimkhulu appeared in The Herald in April 1982.

The two activists were known as the Cosas 2.

Tops Madaka was survived by his wife Boniwe Belwana, now 68, and Amandlangawethu, now 45.      

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Topsy Madaka worked at Old Mutual in Gqeberha and was a shop steward of the General Workers Union of South Africa (GWUSA). 

He was an activist who worked as an underground ANC operative and availed his car for Congress of Students of SA activities. He used to transport a number of underground ANC activists clandestinely to Lesotho - this was when he caught the attention of the apartheid security police.  

On 14 April 1982, he was taken by the police alongside Mthimkhulu and were later found dead. Madaka's spanking new Mazda 323 was later found at Lesotho's border gates. 

Amandlangawethu told News24 on Thursday that the apartheid police killed his father and abandoned his empty car at the border gates with doors wide open, to create the impression that he had fled the police to the neighbouring Lesotho. 

Madaka said on top of the family's demands for the prosecution of his father's killers, he wanted his father's car back as well as the hard-earned cash he worked for at Old Mutual. 

Madaka said: 

We don't need handouts from the government of today. We want them to prosecute people who committed the crime. My father was working at Old Mutual, he had policies, we want what is due to us.

Madaka added that some of the apartheid police officers that killed his father, were still alive and known to the ANC government.

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"I blame the democratic government. It is the duty of government to prosecute those who committed these crimes. My father was treated like a dog. They deleted his records from [the] Home Affairs department. My father does not appear in Home Affairs records, as if he never existed," added Madaka. 

The EFF councillor said he was preparing to sue the government over his father's brutal death.  

Madaka added:

We are planning to take legal action because the government is failing us, they never cared to ask whether we needed anything. They are simply continuing where the apartheid government left off.

Mthimkhulu, a member of the Congress of South African Students (Cosas), led pupils in the then Port Elizabeth and because of his activism, was constantly detained and tortured by the security police. 

In 1982, during his last detention at the then Sanlam building police headquarters in Port Elizabeth, Mthimkhulu was given a deadly poison called Thallium and immediately released to go and die at home, said a close friend and fellow comrade, Tango Lamani. 

siphiwo mthimkhulu
A poisoned Siphiwo Mthimkhulu visited by comrades at Livingstone Hospital.

He said on arrival at home, Mthimkhulu immediately got sick and was sent to Livingstone Hospital, where, after a few days, his condition worsened. 

He was then transferred to Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town where he was hosted by Black Sash stalwart Di Bishop Oliver. 

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Lamani said on his return from Cape Town, Mthimkhulu laid a charge against the state for his poising in detention, as there were overwhelming medical evidence to prove this.

With the pending court case, he became a wanted enemy of the state.

On the evening of the 14 April 1982, he and Madaka were driving to town, not knowing that the police were monitoring their movements. 

Their car was stopped at a makeshift roadblock that was only created for them and they ended up being kidnapped, driven 300km from Port Elizabeth to a police-owned farm in Cradock where they were tortured the whole night and later killed.

Nozibele Mthimkhulu said the family was tired of talking about the incident every year and wanted action taken against those responsible for the killings. 

"This chapter needs to be closed, those people must be prosecuted and sentenced. They are living happily with their families while we live in trauma," said Mthimkhulu.   

Lamani said an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the murder of the Cosas 2 would be held on Monday 25 April at the Nangoza Jebe hall in New Brighton, Gqeberha.

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