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Kalushi Mahlangu: Arrest, Trial And Legacy Of South African Freedom Fighter


Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu, who lived in South Africa from July 10, 1956, to April 6, 1979, was a member of the militant branch of the African National Congress (ANC), Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). He was convicted of murder and hanged in 1979.


Early years

Mahlangu, the second son of Martha Mahlangu, was born on July 10, 1956 in Pretoria. His mother, a domestic worker, raised him as a result of his father’s departure in 1962. He finished Standard 8 (his tenth year of school) at Mamelodi High Institution, but the 1976 Soweto uprising violence forced the closure of the school, interrupting his education.


Military training

Mahlangu went to Mozambique in 1976 and resided in a camp for refugees close to Xai Xai for six months. He was then transported to an African National Congress (ANC) training facility in Angola dubbed “Engineering.” He received instruction in sabotage, military warfare, scouting, and politics both there and at Funda Camp.

He was afterwards sent to Swaziland together with George “Lucky” Mahlangu and Mondy Motloung, where they were given enormous luggage stuffed with books, weapons, and hand grenades. They entered South Africa on June 11, 1977, and began traveling toward Johannesburg.



The three friends were getting into a taxi on Johannesburg’s Diagonal Street while each was hauling a sizable luggage. One of the suitcases was taken by a regular police officer who got suspicious.

A hand grenade and an assault rifle model AK-47 dropped out. Lucky Mahlangu led the group of three in one direction, while the other two headed for Fordsburg.

The two went to the store John Orr’s storage facilities in Goch Street to seek safety. Two guys who were civilians were killed and two others were injured in the ensuing gun war. Eventually, Mahlangu and Motaung were taken into custody.



Trial and sentence

The Supreme Court’s Mahlangu trial commenced on November 7th, 1977. He was defended by Messrs. Clifford Mailer and Ismail Mohamed, S.C. They were charged with two charges of murder, two counts of attempted murder, and several terrorism-related offenses.

According to the court’s ruling, it was irrelevant which of Mahlangu and Motaung had carried out the shooting and killing because both had acted in collaboration.

Mahlangu was found guilty on every charge. According to South African law, a murder defendant must be sentenced to death unless they can show mitigating circumstances.

Mahlangu was given the death penalty when the court determined that he had not done so. Mahlangu was denied the right to appeal by the court. His attorneys next requested leave to appeal, but the Appeal Court once more rejected them.

Mahlangu was hanged on 6 April 1979.

Before going to the gallows he reportedly said: “Tell my people that I love them and that they must continue the fight, my blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom, A luta continua.”


Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Rupert Kessner and Kenneth Wolfendale were both killed, according to the commission’s investigation into the cases of Solomon Mahlangu and Monty Motaung. Additionally, it determined Mahlangu and Motaung to have committed serious human rights breaches. Finally, it concluded that serious human rights breaches had been committed by both the African National Congress and the commanding officer of Umkhonto we Sizwe.


In Mamelodi, Pretoria, where he was born and raised, there is a memorial honoring Solomon Mahlangu. A statue of Mahlangu made of bronze dominates the square.

A significant thoroughfare in the city of Durban was given the name “Edwin Swales VC Drive” in honor of an RAF bomber commander who passed away in 1945. The eThekwini Municipality’s suggestions led to the road’s modification to honor Mahlangu.

Hans Strijdom Drive in Pretoria has been renamed Solomon Mahlangu Drive since it passes through Solomon Mahlangu’s Mamelodi neighborhood.

Senate House, the University of the Witwatersrand’s primary administrative building, was renamed Solomon Mahlangu House in 2016.

Solomon is depicted in the 2017 movie Kalushi, in which Thabo Rametsi played the part.

One of the best universities in Tanzania is Sokoine University of Agriculture, and the Solomon Mahlangu Campus is one of the two campuses located in Morogoro town.


“Solomon” was a crucial song recited by student activists on campuses around the nation during the FeesMustFall rallies. This alludes to Mahlangu, his legacy, and what he represents to today’s youth.


A residence at the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth was renamed in his honor in 2019.


Written by PH

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