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Mr Vuyisile Mini's reburial message of support by Minister Ronald Lamola, 07 November 2020

The Mini Family
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
Other Ministers
Deputy Ministers
Premier of the Eastern Cape, Mr Oscar Mabuyane
Members of the Executive Council
Executive Mayors
Councillors
Abathembu Royal House
Ladies and Gentlemen

Today we are laying to rest a South African who believed in the course for a free and democratic South Africa many decades ago. Vuyisile Mini championed our struggle, knowing fully the danger to his life as the apartheid regime was hell-bent on killing activists and freedom fighters. He was aware that he could be arrested, tortured, and judicially executed, but these factors could not deter him from fighting for a just and democratic South Africa where freedom would reign. This was a noble course that many of our leaders were prepared to lay down their lives for, if needs be.

Vuyisile Mini’s conviction was the struggle to usher equality and create better lives for all South Africans, his name shall forever remain engraved in our collective memory. Younger generations marvel at reading about Mini, his bravery and commitment to the struggle are a source of inspiration when we are confronted with challenges. We draw great strength from memories of good South Africans of Mini’s caliber.

Mini exhibited quality leadership from a young age, he was an enemy to the apartheid regime. He was always exemplary, he called for freedom in South Africa when it was not fashionable. Even though his calls were unheeded, he stood resilient and true to his convictions. The apartheid regime chose to silence him through hanging 56 years ago on this day. His death robbed South Africa a gallant fighter who embodied the values which our freedom fighters stood for. We shall fondly remember him and all those the apartheid regime executed in their failed attempt to derail our journey towards freedom and democracy.

As the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, we have walked a painful journey since 2016 when we commenced with the Gallows Exhumation Project. This is a project which exhumes mortal remains of political prisoners who were hanged on death row by the apartheid regime. There were at least 130 political prisoners who were hanged for politically related offences between 1969 and 1990. The state then retained custody of the remains of the deceased, thereby denying their families an opportunity to properly bury them. The state buried the deceased as paupers in cemeteries in and around Tshwane, Gauteng. Of the 130 hanged political prisoners, 47 have already had their remains exhumed including the remains of Mini.

The Gallows Exhumation Project has recovered a total of 68 remain out of a total of 83 remains. 15 are still to be exhumed. 52 of these remains were of freedom fighters from the Eastern Cape and they have already been handed over to the Province. This has been a painful journey, but families have been assisted to get closure, healing and an opportunity to properly bury their loved ones in line with their customs and traditions. This project demonstrates government’s firm commitment towards healing the wounds inflicted by the apartheid regime and honours heroes and heroines of the liberation struggle.

Programme Director, the hanging of political prisoners by the apartheid regime was meant to instill fear and paralyze the struggle, but this failed. Oliver Tambo on the death sentence passed to three members of the ANC and Umkhonto We Sizwe, Anthony Tsotsobe, David Moise and Johannes Shabangu on 20 August 1981, said the following: “The inhumane apartheid system relies on fascist methods for its doomed survival. Its sordid record features such ghastly crimes as the Soweto massacre, the assassination of detainees such as Steve Biko, the execution of opponents like Solomon Mahlangu, the murder of refugees as in Matola, numerous and savage crimes against the entire people of Southern Africa and use of torture on a scale unequalled in the world. In contrast to this scene of blood, death and destruction, the innocence of Tsotsobe, Moise and Shabangu stands out like a tower, striking serene and unblemished. It invokes a feeling of pride in them, pride in what they stand for, pride in what they represent.”

We want to thank the Eastern Cape Provincial government and the Department of Defence and Military Veterans for a coordinated approach in making this reburial a success. I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the role played by Minister Mapisa-Nqakula when she was leading Correctional Services where she laid a foundation for the Gallows Exhumation Project. She championed the opening of the Gallows Museum in 2011.

To the Mini family, Tata Vuyisile Mini’s death was not in vain, in his honour, we shall continue the path of deepening democracy in South Africa. We shall overcome challenges before us and create better lives for our people. We cannot allow corruption and malfeasance to prevail, that will be soiling Mini’s legacy.

I thank you!