July 22, 2018


I can’t believe that today marks 33 years since the brutal and horrific murder of Maki Sikhosana.The year was 1985, the day was the 20th July. It was my 9th birthday and the President was P.W.Botha.

I was watching SABC news with my father, as he had made it a habit for us to watch the news or read the City Press together. On that day, one of the leading stories was that of a young Black woman, who was being violently kicked, punched and literally, physically brutalised.

Later, she was set a light, while a crowd was singing, shouting and watching her burn to death.This horrific story captivated me for a moment but eventually faded from my 9 year-old memory ( at least I thought so).

Then much later, when I was a bit older and perhaps more curious, I learned that this horrific scenes where from a funeral and the name of the woman was Maki Sikhosana from Duduza.

She was a COSAS activist who was falsely accused by her own comrades of being impimpi (a sell-out ) and causing the death of several COSAS activists, days earlier.

It was later established by the TRC that she was falsely accused and that Joe Mamasela ( the actual sell-out) and co, with the help of the security apparatus of the Botha regime-had carried out both the murders of these COSAS activists and engineered the false accusations against Maki.

During her testimony at the TRC, Maki’s sister, Evelina Moloko, had this to say about the circumstances around her sister’s murder:

There were certain rumours that they wanted to kill Maki…because she caused the death of certain youths who died due to being blown up by hand grenades. Now, those youths who were allegedly killed by hand grenades were three, and the whole three died next to my place… Now, when the hand grenades exploded we were all asleep and Maki was in the house also asleep … We were scared, we did not even look through the window because we thought whoever was shooting outside would also shoot at us if we peeped through the windows or we opened the doors. We ended up not knowing what had happened until the following morning at five…It seemed that it was common knowledge that Maki had a hand in the killing of those youths…I told (her) it was better for her to run away and she told me she was not going to run away because whatever they said she had done, she had not done, she was innocent…It was very hot and I made fire when I got home. Just when I was taking the ashes into the dustbin, three girls went past my place. They were shouting slogans and they were saying that they had burnt Maki…When you look at your sister’s body, you feel it in your own body. I approached her from the feet… but I could not see her face because there was a large rock on her face as well as her chest… I discovered that all her teeth were missing… She had a huge gap on her head, she was also injured and she was actually scorched by fire… Her legs were taken apart…Broken glass had been shoved into the young woman’s vagina.

Maki’s death was so brutal, no amount of words can aptly articulate the depth of the brutality that was unleashed on her body.

Even though she was an activist in her own right-she is one of the many Black women whose story doesn’t feature prominently (if it feature at all) in what is commonly referred to as the liberation struggle narrative.

This is largely because of the patriarchal nature of the liberation movement, but there is also another reason why her story doesn’t feature prominently.

If her death is to be properly investigated, it might implicate a number of people (some still alive), both from the side of the securocrats of the apartheid state and those leaders of the liberation movement, who were in decision-making positions on the former East Rand.

Forgetting, just like remembering is a process that usually happens naturally, but we also know that forgetting can also be deliberately engineered.

In a context that is defined by white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, neoliberalism and anti-Blackness- it favours the oppressors when the oppressed slavishly accept a situation wherein their oppressors seek to erase their memories or dictate to them what or how they must remember their own lived reality.

Just as there are consequences for being  remembered, there are also consequences for being forgotten. For to be forgotten is not just to cease to exist in memory, but also become a physical invisible (even when you’re physically present).

By refusing to remember Makie, we have not just added to the physical brutality that was visited on her Black body, but we have actually ensured that her name remains buried along her battered Black body-deep down in the belly of our troubled land.

Many of us have willingly become part of a nauseating conspiracy of silence that is meant to avoid offending the political mantshingilane class.The Black world must never forget our sister, Maki Sikhosana.



  1. Fadzhiel Ismail says:

    What is the black world ?

    The issue is not black nor white , it is the inhumanity of humans.

    • Veli Mbele says:

      Dear Fadzhiel Ismail

      By the ‘Black world’ the author refers to those sets lived-realities that are unique to people of Afrikan descent(globally). These include the violent deaths of the Black workers killed in Marikana, Andries Tatane, Nqobile Nzuza, Jan Rivombo, Mike Tshele, Osiah Rahube, the Mmupele children, the genocide against the Black Sudanese, the enslavement and killing of Blacks in Arab-controlled Afrika and Arab world, the killing of Black young people by police in AmeriKKKa, the anti-Black racism against Blacks in Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia and other parts of the AmeriKKKas, the genocide against the indigenous Black people of West Papua.


  2. I appreciate that you still remember my sister, although it was very painful to read this but i appreciate it.

    evelina Moloko (Maki’s sister)

  3. Sabelo says:

    This is indeed a very sad truth that a lot of people were killed in very brutal and violent manner ostensibly becouse they were infoormers only to find out that ghey were victims of a campaign by the Apartheid military junta to desabilise ,delegitimatise and perpertually distort the true history of our struggle .

    The continued deafening silence about this heroine is part of a culture of romantising the struggle by contiually failing the people who paid the ultimate price either at the hands of our own comrades or at thd hands of people like Joe Mamasela and the less prominent askaris and agante provacateurs .

    There is no place in our forward march towards the total emancipation of ourselves for this selective amnesia as we will conintinue to be haunted by their spirits that do no not rest in peace becouse of our continued collective denial.

    The liberation movement has shown a disturbing lack of insight into the pain and suffering endured by the families of those who perished in the atrocious war against apartheid and it isnup to those whose conscious has not been numbed by incumbency and the luxuries that iit brings sigh to continue to awaken others eo that the nation and our children should know the full extent of the price of the freedom they now enjoy.

    Lastly with all the reverence and respect to the leaders that we continue to celebrate year in and year out with gge attached commercialization of their names it will help if activists like gge writer of this article raised their hands with the sold mission of honouring the forgotten martyrs of our struggle .

    We owe it to them that ghey must not lie unmarked graves feeling abandoned by those that are reaping the spoils of their struggle, their voices must never be silenced whilst we are still alive.


    All activists to ghe frontline

    Aluta continua victory est certina

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