Events

Lentsela family finds closure as they received his remains

By Glory Msungwa, Internal Communications

Mixed emotions ran high at the Ipelegeng Sports Ground as the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Advocate Michael Masutha, MP, handed over the exhumed remains of Mr Richard Tumokgolo Bushy Lentsela to his family for reburial at Schweizer-Reneke, North West recently.

The somber occasion took place on 28 March 2015, attended by family members and friends, Mamusa Municipality Mayor, Councilor Aaron Motswana, representatives from the Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Mr Kebby Maphatsoe, various government officials and the community at large.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established in 1995 and was tasked with the responsibility of investigating and documenting gross human rights violations committed within and outside South Africa in the period between 1960 and 1994. TRC recommendations approved by parliament in 2003 include final (individual) reparations, symbols and monuments, medical benefits and other forms of social assistance, and community rehabilitation.

Mr Richard Tumakgolo Bushy Lentsela was born on the 12 July 1959, in Schweizer-Reneke and was a qualified Mathematics and Physical Science teacher at Bopaganagng Primary School.  In 1978, he met and fell in love with Ms Kelebogile Lydia Galodikwe and in 1979, they were blessed with a son, Ivan Keaorata Galodikwe who has three children.

He went to exile in Botswana in the company of others from Kuruman in 1985, where they proceeded to Angola. He was infiltrated back into the country on 26 June 1986 and together with others were ambushed while travelling at the back of a bakkie in Welverdiend near Zeerust and were all killed.

The National Prosecuting Authority’s Missing Person Task Team (MPTT) excavated the field where the four were buried and recovered their remains, which had multiple bullet wounds. Richard’s identity was confirmed through DNA tests.

“We acknowledge that this process is very traumatic to all involved, especially for the families, but we take solace in the knowledge that our cadres will now be buried in a dignified manner. I would like to remind all of us that we are here, not only to handover comrade Richard’s remains, but to pay tribute to this gallant cadre of our struggle for freedom and democracy,” said Minister Masutha before handing over the remains.

He encouraged everyone to draw inspiration from comrades such as Richard, who paid the highest price of the country’s freedom. “Comrade Richard remained resolute in the face of death and died with his boots on. He refused to grovel before a regime that trampled on the rights of the majority. Let us pick up their spear, forge ahead and build a truly prosperous South Africa,” he expressed.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission list had nearly 500 names of those who died during the politically related conflicts in the past. Together with the MPTT, TRC unit has exhumed, handed to families and facilitated reburials of 95 remains of the activists. This leaves MPTT with around 400 remains of the struggle heroes and heroines whose graves are yet to be located, exhumed and given dignified burials.

In his message of support, Mamusa Local Municipality Mayor, Councilor Motswana urged the community not to take freedom and democracy for granted as there are people like Richard Lentsela who sacrificed their lives so that South Africans can enjoy freedom and live freely. He proudly announced that a primary school that is currently being built at Extension Five will be named after Richard Lentsela.

A family representative, Mr Molatlhegi Seboko, thanked Minister Masutha and all who were involved in the process of finding their relative. “We had lost hope of ever finding him, when we heard that his remains were found, his father was still alive, but died during the process before he could receive his son’s remains,” said Mr Seboko.

“We are very happy and sad at the same time. His father died before the process could be finalised, but as a family, we now have closure and Ivan, his son, will be able to go to his father’s grave,” he expressed.

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Published: 31 March 2015