The home of liberation struggle icon Solomon Mahlangu will soon be declared a heritage site.
The development was announced in Mamelodi West on Wednesday by the CEO of the National Heritage Council (NHC), Sonwabile Mancotywa, during the launch of plans for the commemoration of 40 years since Mahlangu’s death. Mahlangu, a former ANC military wing combatant, was executed in 1979.
Mancotywa revealed that the NHC had received a request from the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and upon scrutiny, the house had met all the requirements.
“This house, in which Solomon Mahlangu was born, has been graded category one in accordance with the National Heritage Resources Act. This process has been successfully completed by our sister organisation, the South African Heritage Resources Agency. The property was inspected, and it was found to meet the requirements. It is now intended to be declared as a national heritage site,” he said.
Heritage, Mancotywa said, plays a huge role in the education of young people and needs to be preserved.
“Heritage is the DNA of society. It is a strategic resource that is important to any society. Countries that do well in [preserving] heritage, do well in the economy.”
NYDA chairperson Sifiso Mtshweni said it is important for the contribution of youth of the liberation struggle be recognised and the agency aims to do just this.
“It was Mahlangu’s hanging that changed the course of history. It was his hanging that demonstrated the brutality and evil system of apartheid in our country.
“We engaged with the National Heritage Council to… declare [the Mahlangu house as a] national heritage site. We want to leave behind a legacy as the leadership of honouring Solomon Mahlangu in a proper way,” he said.
The NYDA has already honoured Mahlangu with a scholarship named after the struggle stalwart.
“Solomon Mahlangu was quite passionate about education. He wanted to be a teacher. He wanted to improve the lives of young people in this country. That is why we have a scholarship named after him,” said Mtshweni.
The Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu Scholarship Fund (SKMSF) was established in 2014 and has since its formation funded the education of over 500 students in various fields of study.
In line with government’s announcement of fee-free higher education for students from households with an annual income lower than R300 000, the NYDA will now direct most of its funds to postgraduate students.
As part of the 40th commemoration of Mahlangu’s death, the NYDA will on Friday celebrate the success of this scholarship at a gala dinner and showcase some of the most outstanding and high-performance beneficiaries.
On Saturday, 6 April, the government will hold a wreath laying ceremony at his grave and later retrace Mahlangu’s final footsteps before he was killed by hanging at the Pretoria Central Prison.
Department of Arts and Culture Director-General Vusi Mkhize said it was important for Mahlangu’s legacy to be maintained.
“The challenge we would like to pose to the youth is: what are the values that they will emulate in the life of Solomon Mahlangu? The answer lies in his preparedness to sacrifice his life for South Africa so that blacks could be free and end the hegemony of a brutal apartheid system.
“Today, the youth are called to build and grow a new South Africa so it becomes a prosperous, democratic State,” he said.
Mkhize said the department was engaging with the Mahlangu Family Trust on how the precinct would look like.
“The Mahlangu Family Trust has submitted to the department a proposal on how the heritage [precinct] would look like. We have looked at that and we agreed that they need to do a feasibility study that will determine all the necessary requirements to create this precinct.
“As we speak, they are at an advanced stage and we are hoping that by the end of April, they will be able to present so the department can have a look at the process and then act.”
Family spokesperson Prince George Mahlangu thanked the government for taking the initiative to honour his brother.
“It is important that we do this not only in his memory but in the memory of all those gallant fighters who fought alongside him; those who perished and those who are still living,” he said.