THE Pan Africanist Congress has reacted with fury to the removal of the gallows and floorboards in the apartheid era's execution chambers at the Pretoria Central Prison.
The families of six PAC activists who were hanged in 1967 and 1968 were shocked to discover that the gallows and the trapdoors had been removed when they visited the former execution chambers and death row cells last week.
The Poqo activists - Zibonele Dodo, 29, Nontasi Shweni, 36, Jim Mgantweni, 26, Donker Ntsabo, 29, and Veyisile Qoba, 28 - were sentenced to death for their involvement in an attack on police vehicles in Langa, Cape Town, on March 10 1962.
The sixth activist, Mqokeli Nqulwana, 28, was sentenced to death in September 1962 for an incident in which a policeman died.
Their remains were exhumed from the Pretoria West Cemetery and handed to their families for proper burial.
Ntsabo's cousin and chairperson of PAC Veterans Association in Eastern Cape, Paulos Mangqanqwama, wants to know why "the gallows were removed and who ordered the defacing of this important part of South African history".
He said the removal of the gallows amounted to the defacing of history and heritage.
"This is painful and unacceptable because we were expecting to see the apparatus used to brutally kill our loved ones. We will definitely take this up with the government."
Echoing Mangqanqwama's sentiments, Shweni's 34-year-old daughter, Thandiwe, said the government should return the gallows and declare the execution chambers a national monument.
PAC Eatern Cape chairperson Mzwanele Nyhontso said the removal of the gallows was part of the ANC government's broader campaign to write off the PAC's contribution to the struggle.
Attempts to reach the Department of Correctional Services for comment were unsuccessful.