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Solomon Mahlangu Drive (Formerly: Edwin Swales VC Drive)

Solomon “Kalushi” Mahlangu, was hanged at the Pretoria Central Prison on April 6, 1979. He had been charged for the murder of two white civilians in Johannesburg two years earlier. Mahlangu had left the country in 1976 after the Soweto uprising, at the age of 19. He was sent to Angola, where he was chosen for training for an elite force to return to South Africa to carry out a mission commemorating 1976. He was in the first group to leave for South Africa, by way of Maputo.

Siphiwe Nyanda, the former chief of the South African National Defence Force, describes Mahlangu as an “unassuming, disciplined young man who would, today, be a very integral part of the national defence force, protecting the country”. An April 1999 Mail & Guardian article said the mission was aimed at “joining the thousands of school kids who were definitely going to remember June 16, 1976, with protests all over the country”. Mahlangu was reportedly joined by cadres from Duduza, among them Monty Motloung, a sniper, and George “Lucky” Mahlangu. The three made it as far as Johannesburg, but while walking in Goch Street they were confronted by police.

A gun battle ensued, and two people were killed. Mahlangu faced a murder charges, but Motloung, who had fired fatal shots, was declared mentally unfit to stand trial after police and onlookers had assaulted him. Mahlangu was hanged despite calls from local and international organisations for him to be pardoned. “My son had aspirations of becoming a school teacher,” his mother, Martha Mahlangu, was quoted as saying in the Mail & Guardian. “He was very conscientious and humble. He stood firm and unshaken in his beliefs. Now, in my old age, I miss him even more,” she said.