Today we remember the sacrifices made by those who were hanged in the cause of the struggle for democratic rule in South Africa, including the five Vulindlela family members hanged together, Tella Simon, Mqocane and so many others. Let us remember these heroes did not die in vain but in pursuit of freedom.
MBASHE RIVER INCIDENT AND THE HANGINGS THAT FOLLOWED
On 5 February 1963, a large group of about sixty Poqo members from the village of Mputhi in the Eastern Cape launched an attack on a road construction camp beside the Mbashe River on the road between Mthatha and Engcobo. The five occupants of two caravans at the camp were attacked and killed. Mr Derek Thompson was burnt to death inside his caravan, while Mr Norman Grobbelaar, his wife Elizabeth and two teenage daughters Dawn and Edna were hacked to death.
Following the attack, large numbers of local residents were arrested and charged. Thirteen Mputhi residents were sentenced to death and of these, twelve were hanged. The twelve were hanged on 3 July 1964. While the gallows only accommodated seven individuals at a time, they were hanged in two groups on the same day. The first group was hanged at 6 am and the second group at 6.45 am. Among those hanged were five members of the Vulindlela family, including eighteen year old Mbhekaphantsi Vulindlela.
Freedom Park Interfaith Committee members and staff, including Tlou Makhura, Kgomotso Lekalakala, Nomusa Mdlalose, Cordelia Mwezo and Stephen Mbelengwa would be attending the exhumation events.