Mlungiseleli Velaphi (MK name Mzimkulu Goduka) was born in Mdantsane, Eastern Cape in 1967 was a United Democratic Front (UDF) member. He left South Africa in 1985 to join the African National Congress (ANC) and mKhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the ANC. After receiving his basic military training in Angola, he spent a year in Cuba undergoing Special Forces training with specialisation in rural guerrilla warfare.
He was selected to form part of a nine-person MK unit tasked with infiltrating the rural areas of the then-Venda homeland in Northern Transvaal (now Limpopo). The unit crossed from Zimbabwe into South Africa on 25 March 1988. On the morning of 28 March 1988 while on a small island on the Mutale River, they were spotted by members of the Venda Defence Force (VDF). A battle ensued that lasted the whole day. The VDF called for reinforcements from the then South African Defence Force (SADF) and helicopter gunships were deployed. In the ensuing skirmish, Velaphi was shot dead. He was buried at the Tshokota Cemetery in Makhado, Northern Transvaal.
Through the assistance of the Missing Persons Task Team, in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), they were able to positively identify and exhume his remains.
The remains of the other MK members, who were killed in various battles against the then South African Defence Force between 1978 and 1988, were also handed over to their families. The exhumed remains of Sizakele Buzo (MK name Perez Nomvula) from Port Elizabeth, Fuzile Zigoxo (MK name Marvin Kgasupane) from Port Elizabeth, Sipho Kolisi (MK name Luvuyo Kehla) from Grahamstown and Vuyani Goniwe (MK name Jorrisen) from Alice, Eastern Cape were handed over to their families on 8 March 2014at the East London City Hall.
Velaphi’s remains were handed to his family for reburialat an official ceremony on 8 March 2014 in the East London City Hall by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Jeffrey Thamsanqa Radebe and the Deputy Minister of Defence, Thabang Makwetla.
Ntime Skosana from the Department of Military Veterans said the reburial of fallen combatants during the liberation struggle as well as other military veterans constitutes part of the mandate of the department of military veterans to honour them in line with Section 5 of the Military Veterans Act 18 0f 2011.
• DoJ & CD. (2014). Justice Minister to handover exhumed remains of Former MK Members , 5 March. Available at www.justice.gov.za online. Accessed on 12 March 2014.
• Mxengi M. (2014). Exhumed remains of MK soldiers brought home , from East London Express, 12 March. Available at www.eastlondonexpress.co.za online. Accessed on 12 March 2014.
• All Africa. (2014). South Africa: Remains of Former MK Members Handed Over to Families from All Africa, 9 March. Available at www.allafrica.com online. Accessed on 12 March 2014.