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Remembering Solomon Mahlangu

“My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight”

The journey towards South Africa’s freedom and democracy tells a story of youngster committed to the fight against apartheid - Solomon Mahlangu, a fearless revolutionary who was executed 40 years ago under the brutal apartheid regime.

Just before his hanging on 6 April 1979 Mahlangu, affectionately known as Kalushi, uttered these infamous words to his mother, “My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight.”

Mahlangu was born in Pretoria on 10 July 1956. He joined the African National Congress (ANC) in September 1976 and left the country to be trained as an uMkhonto weSizwe soldier in Angola and Mozambique. He returned to South Africa on 11 June 1977, to assist with student protests.

On 13 June 1977 Mahlangu and his companions, Mondy Motloung and George Mahlangu, were accosted by police in Goch Street, Johannesburg. Two civilians were killed and another two were injured in the gun battle and Kalushi and Motloung were arrested. 

Even though Mahlangu was not responsible for the killings, he was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging on 2 March 1978 and executed at the Pretoria Central Prison on 6 April 1979.
In fear of crowd reaction at the funeral, the police buried Mahlangu in Atteridgeville. He was moved to the Mamelodi Cemetery on 6 April 1993.

In 1993 Solomon Mahlangu Square, in Mamelodi, was dedicated to his memory and the ANC hailed him as hero of the revolutionary struggle in South Africa. In 2005, he was awarded the Order of Mendi for Bravery in Gold, for bravery and sacrificing his life for freedom and democracy in South Africa.

In 2014 the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) established the Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu Scholarship Fund (SKMSF) to embrace Kalushi as a symbol of bravery. 

“Mahlangu wanted to become a teacher. Thus, preserving his legacy through the provision of free education to students from poor and working-class backgrounds became prudent.

The NYDA has successfully run this programme for the past five years,” said the NYDA’s Executive Chairman Sifiso Mtsweni at a media briefing with the Department of Arts and Culture.