Thamsanqa Poto finally reburied – thanks to TRC work

By Mokgethwa Ngoepe, Internal Communication

The Poto family has finally found closure of longing to bury their loved one when a funeral for their brother was conducted in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, recently.

The funeral, which took place on 6 June 2015, follows a handing over of the exhumed remains of the fallen hero of Umkhonto Wesizwe (MK), Mr Thamsanqa Poto, to his family in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, recently.

Addressing mourners at the funeral, Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Advocate Michael Masutha, MP, praised the good work done by the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) in collaboration with the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) Missing Persons Task Team. According to the minister, comrade Poto 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. We must all of us, in our various areas of responsibility, draw inspiration from comrades who paid the highest price for our freedom. Let us pick up their spears, forge ahead and build a truly prosperous South Africa”, he said.

The task of exhuming and handing the remains over to families and, at times, the spiritual repatriation of victims whose remains could not be found, is a coordinated effort between the TRC Unit within the department and the NPA’s Missing Persons Task Team.

Thamsanqa Hector Poto was born on 10 June 1966 and joined Umkhonto we Sizwe on the 21 March 1985 at a fairly early age of 19. He was the son of the late Ms Thandeka and Mr Andrew Poto. He was one of five identified MK Cadres from the Eastern Cape who were shot dead in an ambush near Mutale River, Thohoyandou, Limpopo, by the then Venda Defence Force in 1988.

A battle ensued that lasted the whole day and the police called for reinforcements from the South African Defence Force (SADF) and helicopter gunships were deployed. Ultimately, four MK members were shot dead, including Thamsanqa and his comrades. They were from Alice, East London, Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth.

Other previously exhumed remains were of Mlungiseli Velaphi (MK Mzimkulu Goduka), Sizakele Buzo (MK Perez Nomvula), Fuzile Zigoxo (MK Marvin Kgasupane), Sipho Kolisi (MK Luvuyo Kehla) and Vuyani Goniwe (MK Jorrisen) all from Eastern Cape. Their bodies were buried on a remote farm by apartheid forces.

Mr Gerry Poto, the brother of the late Thamsanqa said they are relived and the family will finally get closure to their brother’s chapter. “We are happy and sad at the same time and we thank the minister, especially TRC and Umkhonto Wesizwe Military Veteran Association for the support they showed us. Today we know where the bones of our son are laid to rest,” he concluded.





Published: 10 Jun 2015