How Did Solomon Mahlangu Die

How Did Solomon Mahlangu Die

On the 6th of April 1979, a young South African freedom fighter, Solomon Mahlangu, was executed by the apartheid government. His death sparked outrage and heightened the political awareness and resistance against the oppressive regime. Mahlangu's life and death symbolized the ongoing struggle for liberation in South Africa.

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Table
  1. Early Life and Political Activism
  2. Arrest and Trial
  3. International Appeals and Execution
  4. Legacy and Commemoration
    1. Conclusion

Early Life and Political Activism

Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu was born on July 10, 1956, in Mamelodi, a township east of Pretoria. He was the second of ten children in his family. Mahlangu was introduced to politics at an early age by his mother, Martha Mahlangu, who was a member of the African National Congress (ANC) Women's League. His mother's activism and his own experiences with police brutality ignited his passion for the anti-apartheid struggle.

Mahlangu joined the ANC at age 15 and later its armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). He underwent military training in Angola and was sent back to South Africa to join a group of MK fighters in carrying out sabotage missions against the apartheid government.

Arrest and Trial

In 1977, Mahlangu and his comrades, Mondy Motloung and George Mahlangu, were on a mission to blow up a pharmacy in Johannesburg, but they were ambushed by the police. In the ensuing shootout, two civilians were killed, and several people were injured. Mahlangu and his colleagues fled to Swaziland but were later captured by the Swazi police and handed over to the South African authorities.

Mahlangu and Motloung were charged with murder and terrorism, and their trial became known as the "Mamelodi Trial." During the trial, Mahlangu refused to plead for mercy or renounce his beliefs, famously stating:

"My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them and they must continue the fight."

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Mahlangu was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging, while Motloung was sentenced to life imprisonment. The death sentence sparked national and international condemnation and calls for clemency.

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International Appeals and Execution

The United Nations, countries such as Zambia and Tanzania, and international organizations such as the World Council of Churches and the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid all appealed for Mahlangu's life to be spared, arguing that he didn't receive a fair trial and that he was a political activist rather than a common criminal. However, the apartheid government rejected all appeals, and Mahlangu was hanged at Pretoria Central Prison on April 6, 1979.

Legacy and Commemoration

Mahlangu's death was a turning point in the anti-apartheid struggle, cementing his place as a martyr and national hero. He became a symbol of bravery and sacrifice, inspiring generations of South Africans to continue the fight for freedom and democracy.

His legacy is honored in many ways, including the Solomon Mahlangu Scholarship Fund, which supports students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College, established in Tanzania to provide education and training to ANC cadres.

Conclusion

Solomon Mahlangu's life and death were emblematic of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. His unwavering commitment to freedom and justice, even in the face of death, inspired a generation of activists to keep fighting for a better future. Mahlangu will always be remembered as a hero and a symbol of hope.

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