'The family insisted' - NYDA's Sifiso Mtsweni responds to Solomon Mahlangu tombstone outrage

Solomon Mahlangu's tombstone.
Solomon Mahlangu's tombstone.
Image: Twitter

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) insists that it only honoured the wishes of Solomon Mahlangu’s family when its chairperson’s name was emblazoned on the late struggle icon’s tombstone.

The official unveiling of the revamped Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu tombstone took place in Mamelodi today. This also marked what would have been Mahlangu's 62nd birthday. 

Executive Chairperson of the NYDA, Sifiso Mtsweni’s name was placed front and centre, on a tombstone honouring the late Mahlangu, with the inscription “donated on behalf of the NYDA by Executive Chairperson Mr Sifiso Mtsweni”.

This caused a social media uproar, with many criticising Mtsweni's decision to have his name engraved on the struggle hero's tombstone.  "Sifiso is a sick man, this couldn’t have been without his approval...no self respecting human will allow his name on a tombstone while they are still alive. This is what happens when you’re surrounded by bootlickers who find it hard to object to authority," wrote @maldaka

“This breaks my heart!!! Whole NYDA board decided on this? Young people sat and agreed to waste money on this? Sisebubhanxeni nyhani...” tweeted Sithini Matiwane.

Mfana kaMshengu added with “Shame on Sifiso Mtsweni and the NYDA. This is embarrassing and definitely a new low”

Mtsweni has since backtracked. In a statement issued late on Tuesday Mtsweni said “I have taken note of the reaction regarding the what has been inscribed into the tombstone of Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu as unveiled by us today... I had earlier raised my own reservations about that but there was an insistence by the family to recognize us for what we did for them,” He added that his name would be removed, however the NYDA logo would remain on the gravestone.

“Having seen the reaction and not wanting it to divert from the work that we are doing as the agency, I have ordered that my name be removed from the tombstone and that only the logo of the agency remains. I accept that many find this in bad taste and we apologize for this. This will be done immediately.”

Meanwhile , Executive Deputy Chairperson of the NYDA Bavelile Hlongwa also came out in defense of the organisation's chairperson, telling Kaya Fm’s John Perlman that Mahlangu's family are the ones who wanted the tombstone to have Mtsweni’s name.