Honour for struggle hero

In 1977 apartheid police arrested Mamelodi-born freedom fighter Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu on his way to a commemoration ceremony for the victims of the June 16 Soweto massacre.

He was hanged two years later.

Yesterday more than 2000 young people paid tribute to Mahlangu by spending most of the morning cleaning Solomon Mahlangu Freedom Square in Mamelodi.

The event was aimed at educating young people about the history of the site, gateway to the township.

Tshwane Regional Youth Forum executive director Kgomotso Mohlala said the campaign would become a monthly event.

"This is a historic place for the people of Mamelodi," he said. "Our biggest concern is that it is always dirty. We are planning on redeveloping this area.

"The municipality has approved our plans [to] build offices where young people will learn about the history of Mamelodi."

Thabo Gonane, 13, who is a Grade 7 pupil at the Philadi Nakeng Primary School, said he was excited to be part of the event.

"I heard about the campaign at school and I could not wait to get here," he said. "My teacher says freedom fighters like Mahlangu fought for the good life we are enjoying today. I am happy to clean a place was designed to honour him."

Mahlangu was born in Pretoria on July 10 1956.

He attended Mamelodi High School up to standard 8 when it was closed as a result of riots.

In 1977 Mahlangu, Montlou Motloung and George Lucky Mahlangu were walking in Goch Street, Johannesburg, when they were confronted by the police.

A gun battle ensued in which two people were killed. Mahlangu was arrested. His death sentence sparked an international outcry, but that was not enough to convince the apartheid government to spare his life. He was hanged in 1979.