Siphiwo Mtimkhulu (left) and Topsy Mdaka (right)
On 14 April 1982, Gideon Niewoudt, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Gerrit Erasmus and Hermanus du Plessis – drugged, shot, burnt Siphiwo Mtimkulu and Topsy Mdaka. They burnt them for six hours and then threw their ashes into the Fish River.
Like with everything in this country about the manner in which Black people, their lives and their history is handled, the spelling of African names are bastardised. In some documents Mtimkulu is spelt Mthimkulu and in others Mdaka is Madaka.
Siphiwo Mtimkhulu was a youth activist in Zakehele township near Port Elizabeth. He joined the South African Students Movement in 1977 and was arrested two years later for possession of banned literature. He was 19 years old when he first went into prison. 1981 was to be a year in which this young activist’s life took a turn for the worse and his life, a year later.
South Africa was celebrating twenty years of being a Republic and the ANC needed to thwart the celebrations. Mtimkhulu was tasked with distributing the pamphlets explaining the 3-day stay away. The young activist had always been a target of apartheid’s security police and he was finally tracked down, shot and detained for five months. In that time he, like most activists, endured the most grotesque human rights violations. He was poisoned and tortured but he pushed the apartheid government too far when he sued. A year later he disappeared with a colleague, Topsy Mdaka. A Truth and Reconcilliation Amnesty application by Gideon Nieuwoudt, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Gerrit Erasmus and Hermanus du Plessis revealed what happened to the two young men. According to their information, on 14 April 1982, Mtimkhulu and Mdaka were lured to an abandoned police station called Post Chalmers, near Cradock. They were then drugged with coffee laced with sleeping tablets. Once they had passed out, they were shot, their bodies burned for six hours through the night.
Six hours they burnt these children. The next morning, their ashes were thrown into the Fish River. The TRC was happy that this was a full disclosure and granted these evil men amnesty. And so some of them walk among us freely. Niewoudt died in 2005 from lung cancer. Read Amnesty Committee Transcript on Niewoudt http://sabctrc.saha.org.za/tvseries/episode78/section4/transcript2.htm?tab=report
Read the response of the family to the freedom awarded their killers http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/wife-stunned-by-amnesty-for-killers-30803