The African National Congress (ANC) has described the death penalty as a “cruel system”. On Tuesday the ANC commemorated the hanging by the apartheid government of freedom fighter, Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu.
Mahlangu was hanged at the age of 22 at the now Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre 42 years ago after he was found guilty of murder.
An ANC delegation of leaders also laid a wreath at Mahlangu’s grave in Mamelodi and at the Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre.
ANC Treasurer General, Paul Mashatile, said Mahlangu's killing is evidence that the death penalty is a cruel system.
“There were people saying bring back death penalty. I think they need to walk through that place just for 30 minutes then you will understand how cruel the death penalty is. The system is where government abrogate upon itself to be a killer. When government decides it's going to be a killer. Just walk through those gallows and then you will understand why we as the African National Congress said no to the death penalty. It is a very cruel system that takes lives of innocent people,” said Mashatile.
Solomon Mahlangu's brother, Chief Lucas Mahlangu, said his brother was executed for a crime he didn’t commit.
“What hurt us the most as a family was that Solly was executed for a crime that he didn’t commit. He was sentenced for common purpose and he was the first person to be charged under that law. Even through he was not the one that pulled the trigger, he was charged with all the crimes,” said Chief Mahlangu.
He added that his brother was left to face the charges all by himself, saying one of his companions fled the scene of the crime while the second one could not stand trial due to a head injury.
Lucas Mahlangu appealed to South Africans never to forget the legacy of his brother Solomon
“What is important to us as a family is that his legacy must always be remembered. The government must also live to his expectations. The ANC must fix the organization to ensure that the land is returned to black people. Solly and other struggle icons died so that black people can have land,” said Lucas Mahlangu.