The "Sharpeville Six" narrowly escape executions
Date: 11 July, 1988
On 11 July 1988, Duma Khumalo, Oupa "Scotch" Diniso, Ja-ja Sefatsa, Theresa Ramashamola, Francis Mokhesi and Reid Mokoena, better known as the "Sharpeville Six", narrowly escaped their scheduled hangings by fifteen hours.
A huge sigh of relief came to the "Sharpeville Six" after Justice Minister Kobie Coetsee granted them an indefinite stay of execution. Initially there were eight people charged, but Christian Mokubung and Gideon Mokone were released. “The Sharpeville Six” were found guilty of murdering Sharpeville Deputy Mayor Jacob Kuzwayo Dhlamini, who was beaten and burnt to death by an angry mob on 3 September 1984. They faced execution once convicted.
Before the murder of Dhlamini, Sharpeville residents were protesting specifically against rent increases by the town council. The rent boycott was also a more general protest against corrupt councillors and the unjust apartheid system. Three months after the incident the "Sharpeville Six" were arrested, tried and sentenced. They spent four years on death row.
Their death penalties were later commuted to prison sentences, ranging from twenty-five years to life. Reprieve came in 1991 when negotiations between liberation organisations and the apartheid government led to the release of all political prisoners. The "Sharpeville Six" were granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission(TRC) but were never compensated for their ordeal in prison.
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- Anon (n.d.) Apartheid victims reject handoutsfrom Guardian [online] Available at www.guardian.co.uk[Accessed: 20 June 2011]