Interview With Solomon Khalushi’s Friend: Len Ngoma

Mamelodi Happenings brings you one of the Hero’s friends who died in the struggle during the apartheid period. Expect more people who contributed to the struggle but are not yet known.

Firstly, tell us about your self and what you do

My name is Len Ngoma and I’m a pensioner. I used to be a teacher at Lehlabile Secondary School. I own a couple of businesses n Mamelodi West. One of them being flats that I rent out.

Can you tell us how well you knew the late Solomon Khalushi Mahlangu, was he a political activist?

Solomon Mahlangu was my friend, we grew up together playing soccer, while we were young we used to call him city councillor because he was playing number 3 and he was a good defender and used to like to be in control. He wasn’t a political activist he was a soldier for the party called Umkhonto Wesizwe (MK). He was one of those during the struggle showed the spirit of non-compromising even when he was in court.

What can you remember from the last time you were with Solomon Mahlangu?

One of the things I will never forget in my life…before he was hung, i remember the boer came at his house, we were together at the time, sitting outside cooking on the fire, they came kicked the pots and the fire died out, I remember we were cooking…and after they left. We didn’t know what they wanted or what we did.

How did it feel after you heard that your friend was hung in Pretoria Central Prison?

I never had a chance to feel pain because we were always fighting with the police. What pained me was that I couldn’t bury him. He was supposed to be buried in Mamelodi but due to circumstances, they took him to Atteridgeville. That day after we heard that he was hung the whole street in C2 was out and fighting. So many of young people in our street were arrested that day. He was later brought to Mamelodi after the late Nelson Mandela was the president.

Have you participated in the struggle and can you still remember what happened that day?

Yes I have. I was one of the people who was involved in the bombing of Ellis Park Rugby Stadium in Johannesburg. It was 1988 when the incident occurred. You can have a look at Ellis Park rugby stadium bombing in 1998, Johannesburg.

What do you think about the movie made about him?

I think the movie needed more research because is not entirely based on the true story. The movie is distorted. The story line has changed so much. In the story, they showed Solomon and his friends going to exile and coming back together and that is not true. I was there when he left the country, I remember taking him to the train station in Eestefabriek, although I didn’t know that he was leaving. What I knew was that he left with them and they didn’t go to the same places, they went to different training and even when they came back, they didn’t all come back together. He went into exile with four people who ended up on death row like he did. The purpose of them in exile was not to make friendship whereas in the movie it looks like it was about friendship. They were there to be trained and prepared to fight.

Do you think is important for young people to know about history especially what used to happen during the apartheid period and people who fought for the struggle?

Yes, it is, I’d urge them to read a book called In Different Times. Although it was published way after our heroes like Solomon died but it is of importance for them to read and know was happening then. There are also heroes in that book from Mamelodi whom people didn’t know about and participated during the struggle.

By: Fortunate Machaba


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