16 March 2017
A member of the PAN Africanist Congress (PAC) veteran and Poqo who survived death row 53 years ago Mr Phumelele Nkwenkwe Gaqa, died while talking at the reburial of one his comrades in Mthatha. He will be buried on the 18th March 2017 in Baziya eMputhi. The funeral programme will start at 09:00am.
Gaqa, 75, who miraculously escaped being hanged after his arrest 53 years ago, had been campaigning for years for the return of the remains of 14 of his Poqo comrades hanged in Pretoria in 1963.Although his health deteriorated last year, he vowed that
“I will only die after the return of the remains of my comrades”.
The exhumed remains of his 14 comrades were returned home to Bhaziya on February 11 by Justice Minister Michael Masutha, joined by the Department of Military Veterans and the ECape Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts & Culture.
He said Bhaziya was the only village in the country where 14 of its residents were hanged at the same time for the same act and the country owed the village an honour and recognition for its sacrifices to the liberation struggle, especially as it was one of the most impoverished areas in the Transkei region. Mr Gaqa had struggled to breathe halfway through his speech at the funeral and asked if he could give the rest of it seated, he then collapsed.
Gaqa and 22 other men from Bhaziya had been arrested after five white construction workers were killed in a quarry near the Mbashe River on the R61 between Ngcobo and Mthatha. Fourteen of them – named the “Poqo cadres” – were hanged on July 3 1963. In an interview last year, Gaqa said: “Now I will be in the throne of God and joined to my 14 departed comrades.”
Mr Gaqa fought tirelessly to ensure the families of departed patriots got special pensions and were given the respect they deserved. The Department of Military Veterans will soldier on in its quest to honour military veterans providing them with socio economic support and memorization, restoring their dignity, and empowering other military veterans for nation building.
Ms Lebogang Mothapa
Cell: 076 865 7188
Mr Musi Mbulelo
Cell: 082 338 3890
The Military Veterans Act 18 of 2011 upon which the Department was formed, places an obligation for the state to roll proposed services and benefits to Military Veterans and their dependents. Here are some facts about the benefits. Get the facts!