Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Closure for families as PAC martyrs laid to rest

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The families of two PAC martyrs received closure when the remains of Ggibile Nicholas Hans and Jonas Mzondi Jabavu were finally laid to rest in Paarl at the weekend.
Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha presided over the moving ceremony.

Hans, 26, and Jabavu, 32, were hanged at the Pretoria Central Prison gallows for incidents that took place during an intense period of political turmoil in the 1960s

Masutha said they were executed on May 30, 1967 for the 1962 killing of Maurice Berger, a white shopkeeper in Paarl, by the PAC task force, where they served as armed combatants.

He said Berger’s death took place in the context of what the historian Tom Lodge rightly referred to as “the Paarl insurrection”, which began in the early hours of November 22, 1962 when about 250 men armed with axes, pangas and other homemade weapons marched from Mbekweni township to the police station in the town.

The incident, which lasted no more than three hours, resulted in the deaths of seven people and left many others injured.

Jonas Mzondi Jabavu

They were exhumed by the Missing Persons Task Team in the National Prosecuting Authority from pauper graves in the Mamelodi and Rebecca Street cemeteries in Tshwane in August 2017 and in March 2018, in partnership with the TRC Unit in the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development,” he said.


Masutha added that Hans, Jabavu and their fellow Paarl activists were heroes, and public spaces should be named in their honour for the great gift they had bequeathed to future generations.

He said the handing over of the remains should be the beginning of such a process and hoped the handover would help the families of the two combatants find closure by finally laying them to rest, as was the right of any family.

It should also help the Paarl community to reflect on its past, asking themselves serious questions about what a sustainable future should look like and what each one of them would do to contribute to the construction of such a future, Masutha added.

“In this regard, it would help us if our young people, through their schools and extramural activities, could take the lead in such a reflection,” he said.

Hans’s nephew Castro Leholo, 53, said the family felt an equal amount of sadness and joy at the return of their loved one’s remains.

“My mother was his sister and she was pregnant with me when he was waiting to be hanged in the gallows.

“She went into labour when the family went to Pretoria for the last time in November 1967 to say goodbye.

“There was so much pain during that time. The then government had sent his wife back to Lesotho with their two sons, who we learnt had not even known who he was or what he had sacrificed.”

He said both families had decided to bury Hans and Jabavu together.

Jabavu’s daughter, Ivy Maqula, 54, said she was two years old when police took her father away from them.

“My mother and my siblings had so much anger for so many years because they (apartheid government) took him from us, killed him and then denied us the right to lay him to rest.

“We are very happy to be able to do that now with his friend. We felt it only right not to separate them in death, as they had fought and died together,” she added.

Source: News24

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