Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola announced on Wednesday he will officiate at the handover ceremony of the exhumed remains of nine people who were hanged by the apartheid regime.
Known as the Cato Manor 9, they were accused of killing nine apartheid police officers on January 24, 1960. They were hanged in 1961.
The officers, both black and white, had raided the informal settlement to enforce apartheid laws, including pass laws and liquor legislation. It had been one of several raids over many months for a range of apartheid offences. During the raid, the police clashed with residents, firing at the public and killing one person. The enraged community attacked the officers, killing nine.
Twenty-nine people would face charges of murder, with 10 eventually being sentenced to death. One person successfully appealed his sentence, while the other nine were rejected.
The hanged included Thembinkosi Schoolboy Mthembu, Fanozi Brian Mgubungu, Msayineke Daniel Khuzwayo, Sililo Joseph Miya, Payiyana Dladla, Mahemu Goqo, Maqandeni Lushozi, Thompson Chamane and Mhlawungeni Joe Khuzwayo.
“The exhumation of the remains of all prisoners, who were hanged between 1960 and 1990, is in accordance with the gallows exhumation project that was officially launched on March 23, 2016, at the Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre,” said the Department of Correctional Services in a statement released by spokesperson Chrispin Phiri.
He said the then-apartheid state had retained custody of the remains of the deceased.
“They thereby denied their families an opportunity to bury them. The state buried the deceased political prisoners as paupers in cemeteries in and around Tshwane.”
Phiri said the handover of the remains “is an effort intended to bring closure to the families of the deceased political prisoners, and to honour their legacy”.
“The handover of the remains seeks to afford families of the Cato Manor 9 dignified reburials while honouring their legacy.”