Family finds closure after reburial of ex-MK soldier

Military veterans attend the funeral service of MK soldier Sandile Mvundla at Naledi Community Hall, Soweto, on Saturday.
Military veterans attend the funeral service of MK soldier Sandile Mvundla at Naledi Community Hall, Soweto, on Saturday.
Image: Laird Forbes/Gallo images

The family of late MK soldier Sandile Mvundla has finally found closure after his remains were laid to rest at Lenasia Cemetery, south of Joburg, at the weekend.

Soweto residents stood on the side of the road and watched as Mvundla's remains were taken to his last resting place on Saturday, after
31 years. A group of youth marched behind the hearse, singing Struggle songs in honour of Mvundla.

He was killed by the apartheid security forces in Botswana in 1988. His remains were exhumed in July and arrived in SA earlier this month for reburial.

On Saturday, members of the uMkhonto weSizwe and other Struggle veterans joined Mvundla's family during a funeral service held in Naledi, Soweto, where he grew up.

Mourners took turns describing Mvundla as a great man who had influence on those around him. To his comrades, Mvundla was known as "The Pat", while others knew him as "Naledi Sehume".

"Naledi was a gifted person. A born leader. He was charming, yet possessed a tenacious sense of purpose. He was a hard worker," said deputy minister of defence and military veterans Thabang Makwetla.

Mvundla was sent to a mission in Botswana by the late Chris Hani in 1985 after training in Angola. On arrival in Botswana he adopted the name Charles Mokwena.

Makwetla visited Mvundla before he was attacked in Gaborone. He said Mvundla left a legacy that MK members had a responsibility to protect.

Mvundla's remains were buried in Lenasia.
Mvundla's remains were buried in Lenasia.

"We of Umkhonto weSizwe carry the bigger part of the blame for the regression in the Struggle to realise non-racialism in this country within the ANC. As Umkhonto weSizwe, we were an organisation that had participants from all communities in South Africa regardless of race."

He added: "We have allowed within the ranks of the ANC wrong tendencies to develop when we know exactly where this organisation comes from and how we were brought up".

Dan Hatto, who was with Mvundla on the night he was killed, said he hid under a bed when he heard gunshots.

"The shooting finally ended and it was quiet. I tried to walk out but could not open the door because they had shot at it. As I was trying to find another way out, the house caught fire."

Mvundla died in the house, along with three local women.

His son, Mugabe Thokoane, said he was inspired to have had a father like Mvundla though he never met him.

Thokoane's mother was pregnant with him when Mvundla left SA in 1979.

"Burying my father today has brought closure to me. It is an end of a chapter and a beginning of a new chapter. I know now I can go to a certain place and communicate with him."

Another of Mvundla's children, Naledi Moleko, who lives in Botswana, was also born after her father was killed. "I'm very excited that we have been able to bury my father. I am proud of what he was able to achieve."