South Africa exhumes political prisoners hanged during apartheid

Johannesburg  –   The exhumation of 83 political prisoners hanged at Pretoria Central Prison during the apartheid era had started in the country’s capital on Wednesday, Justice Minister, Michael Masutha, said.

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The minister said the remains would be identified and returned to their families.

Report says some 130 political prisoners were hanged on the gallows of the correctional centre between 1960 and 1990.

The remains of 47 of them mainly members of the Pan Africanist Congress and United Democratic Front anti-apartheid organisations had been exhumed,
while 83 of them remain buried in unmarked graves.

The apartheid government was widely criticised for its mass executions of anti-apartheid activists, most of them black South Africans.

It said that the last execution carried out at the prison was of Solomon Ngobeni in November 1989, who was convicted of robbing a taxi driver.

The last woman executed was Sandra Smith, also convicted for murder in June of the same year.

In February 1990, President Frederik Willem de Klerk declared a moratorium on executions in the country, while the death penalty was abolished in 1995.

However, many South Africans had called for the death penalty to be reinstated after a surge in violent crimes and murders in the country.

A survey conducted in 2015 by the South African research group Pondering Panda found that over three-quarters of young South Africans wanted the death penalty back. (dpa/NAN)

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