Address by Minister Jeff Radebe, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, on the occasion of the cleansing ceremony and spiritual repatriation of Oupa Ronald Madondo
3 Apr 2012Ladies and Gentlemen, honourable guests, we are gathered here today for the final phase of the symbolic burial of Oupa Ronald Madondo. The Madondo family has been performing the spiritual repatriation of Ronald Oupa Madondo from the farmhouse and dam at Jozini, to where we are today, here at Freedom Park. It is indeed a privilege and an honour for me to be part of this ceremony, which has enabled his family and loved ones to give him a proper and dignified farewell; as he so rightly deserves.
On this solemn occasion on the same year that we celebrate the Centenary of the ANC, we are indeed honoured to partake in this important cleansing ceremony and the spiritual repatriation of Oupa Ronald Madondo. This solemn occasion is reminder to the fact that our freedom was not handed over on a platter by the apartheid regime in 1994.
Oupa Ronald Madondo was born on 20 May 1948 in Sophiatown. With the advent of forced removals from Sophiatown, he and his family found themselves uprooted and relocated to Dube, Soweto in 1958.
After matriculating from the Pimville High School, his first job was at The Star delivering newspapers. Later, up until his disappearance, he worked in his mother’s coal yard in Kliptown.
He was recruited to the ANC in the early 1970s, where he was known as MK Scorpion. During this period he was actively involved in ANC activities, including assisting young students to go into exile.
In July 1979, Comrade Madondo was detained under Section 6 of the then Terrorism Act, to be released seven weeks later in September 1979. He lodged a complaint regarding the severe assault and torture he had endured during his detention.
On the same year that Oupa Ronald Madondo’s mortal remains were blown off by a bomb attached to his body and detonated by the apartheid secret security operatives, yet another young soul Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu lost his life. Many could easily remember the name Solomon Mahlangu and the words that continued to ring as inspiration to many freedoms fighters when he declared that his blood would nourish the tree that would bear the fruit of freedom.
Countless others such as Oupa Ronald Madondo lost their lives during the struggle against apartheid in ways that left the Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) the Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in tears during the hearings where some of the brutal confessions were made.
As a consequence of the TRC process and the effort to recover the bodies of those secretly murdered by the apartheid regime secret security operations, over 75 bodies have consequently been retrieved from where they were secretly disposed off after being killed. We must take this opportunity to express gratitude to the sterling work by the TRC Unit in its work that helps bring a dignified closure amongst the family members of those loved ones that perished in this cruel and gruesome manner. The fact that this effort has been coordinated by the TRC Unit towards the cleansing ceremony and the spiritual repatriation demonstrates that as government we will not leave any stone unturned towards restoring the dignity and pride of our people that had been grossly undermined by the colonial apartheid regime.
As the ANC, we are proud of the legacy of Oupa Ronald Madondo because of the sacrifices he made towards our freedom, paying the ultimate price in the process. It is not only the Madondo family and relatives that lost Oupa, but the entire country lost a compatriot who was prepared to give beyond his own interests, for the freedom of all our people. Before he met his gruesome death through what was clearly a calculated and pre-meditated murder, Oupa had lodged a complaint regarding the severe assault and torture he had endured during his detention.
Later the Security Police Head Office resolved that Oupa must be eliminated. Colonel SJ Visser was entrusted with this responsibility to eliminate Oupa, who in turn turned to his trusted colleague Lt Johan van Zyl stationed in Ladysmith for the murder and the disposal of his remains. It was during this time that Jozini was chosen as the place that this gruesome murder would be carried out. Lt van Zyl further recruited others into this secret murder, amongst them the explosives expert Sgt Don Gold from the Pietermaritzburg Security Police branch.
Also recruited were Warrant Officer GS Schoon of Jozini Security Police branch and Warrant Officer DS Carr of Mbazwana Security Police branch.
The actual murder followed a pretext at releasing him from detention, while the actual aim was to subsequently abduct him and carry out his murder and the disposal of his body in the manner that I have already alluded to. It was further established in the TRC process that after Carr who was entrusted to shoot and kill Oupa during his sleep missed him, Madondo was awoken by the sound of the shot and attempted in vain to escape and was subsequently shot in the head and body to his death. It was after this that the further steps for the disposal of his body through explosives was carried out which to this day has made it impossible to retrieve any of his remains.
This is the hero of our people who perished in the line of duty to his people for their freedom. It is for this reason that we are here today, because we will forever be indebted to Oupa Madondo’s bravery and the supreme sacrifice that he made on our behalf. His memory will forever be engraved in the annals of our history, and the testimony of our freedom will never be complete without mentioning his life of sacrifice and ultimate gruesome death.
As we set out to take further the political freedom that we attained in 1994 into the economic sphere of our people, we are inspired by the spirit of sacrifice that the name Oupa Ronald Madondo will forever embody.
In line with the TRC recommendations, the Missing Persons Tasks Team (MPTT), could not exhume Oupa Madondo’d body because after he was shot, his body was wrapped in a canvas tarpaulin, loaded into a boat and taken to an island in the middle of Jozini Dam and exploded. During the 1980’s and 1990’s, the Jozini Dam expanded significantly and the island on which Madondo’s body was destroyed was covered in water. Due to this fact, it was concluded that it would be impossible to recover his blown up remains.
Today’s event is what in iSiZulu we call “ukubhodlela emswaneni”, because in African culture and tradition, a life once lived can never be forgotten or be left to depart without a dignified send off, seeing that his remains can never be retrieved. It is also a reminder of the barbarism that must never ever be allowed to rear its ugly head in our land!
I want to assure the Madondo family that their beloved father, son, brother and cousin will not be forgotten. As we lay him to rest spiritually, know that he will always be remembered and honoured for his sacrifices for the liberation of this country.
I also thank the TRC Unit in the DoJ and CD, which in their coordinating capacity rendered support throughout this process, and assisted in arranging this event. We also thank the Missing Persons Task Team while also our sincere gratitude goes to Freedom Park for availing their services and facilities for conducting the spiritual repatriation.
Lastly, we thank the Jozini local municipality for their assistance and the owner of the Leeuspoor farm for allowing access to the property. We also thank all those we would not have been able to mention with names but who have contributed in one way or another to the restoration of the dignity of Oupa Ronald Madondo and the closure that this process will surely bring.
On behalf of the Government of the Republic of South Africa, and on behalf of all our people who are beneficiaries of the freedom that Oupa fought for, we express our gratitude to the Madondo family as we say your loss will forever remains our loss as a nation. It has been a long painful process that you have endured and we are here to assure you that all the people of South Africa are with you in grief that you have and continue to suffer.
I thank you!
Issued by: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
3 Apr 2012
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