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Emfuleni Local Municipality mourns the passing on of Cllr. Theresa Ramashamole

30 November 2015 - The Emfuleni Local Municipality’s executive Mayor, Mahole Mofokeng has conveyed condolences to the family of Theresa Ramashamole, part-time councillor of the ELM, who passed on last Wednesday night.

The Councillor who was 55, left this world peacefully at her home after a long illness.

Ms. Ramashamole was born in Sharpeville on 31 August 1960. Her mother, Mrs. Julia Ramashamole was part of the huge crowd that converged on the Sharpeville police station on March 21, 1960. The demonstration was part of a campaign of peaceful defiance intended to end the pass laws, which regulated the movement of blacks. The police opened fire on the crowd and 69 people were killed and 186 wounded; many of them shot in the back. Mrs. Ramashamole, three months pregnant with Theresa was uninjured. Twenty-four years later in Sharpeville, on September 3, 1984, her daughter was struck on the head by a rubber bullet as she took part in a protest against rent increases.

"Her contribution to this region, and Emfuleni, will forever be cherished. We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Theresa Ramashamole,”said the Executive Mayor.

"On behalf of the local municipality and people of Emfuleni, we want to offer our sincere condolences to Cllr.Theresa Ramashamole's family, relatives and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all during these difficult moments. May her soul rest in peace."

Ms. Ramashamole was tried in the Pretoria Supreme Court along with Mojalefa Sefatsa, Reid Mokoena, Oupa Diniso, Duma Khumalo, and Francis Mokhesi. The accussed, commonly known as the Sharpeville Six, were charged with the September 1984 murder of Jacob Dlamini, a Lekoa township councilor. They were convicted and sentenced to death on 5 December 1985 for their alleged “association with the crowd” that killed Dlamini, although the trial judge and appeals court acknowledged that there was no direct evidence involving them with the murder.

Dlamini was killed by protesters on 3 September, also known as the ‘Vaal uprising’ when he refused to join a protest march against rent increases. Instead he pulled out a gun and fired on the protesters.

Ms. Ramashamole was accused of inciting the crowd to kill Dlamini and not of participating in the attack herself. A single unnamed witness, whom the defense described as unreliable, said he overheard her saying, ‘He’s shooting, let’s kill him’ when Dlamini opened fire on the crowd. Ramashamole denied this. She said she had attended part of the march – in fact she was hit on the head by a police rubber bullet earlier the same morning.

In November 1984, when Ramashamole was arrested, she was stripped and tortured with electric shocks which led to the loss of her womb. She suffered further injury during the course of the trial when her arm was broken in a police vehicle. A number of co-accused also suffered torture before and during the trial.

International public pressure from December 1985 to November 1988 played a significant role in delaying the execution of the Sharpeville Six. The United Nations Security Council called on South Africa to commute the death sentences of the Six, saying the matter had caused international condemnation. Appeals for clemency had been made over the 3 years Theresa and the others were on death row, by UN Secretary General Perez de Cuellar, President Reagan, British Prime Minister Thatcher, West German Chancellor Kohl, French Prime Minister Chirac, and Amnesty International. The conservative Daily Telegraph of Britain said that to hang six people merely for having been in the vicinity of the murder was not retribution, but the same crime six times over.

Although he had turned down clemency before, the then apartheid South African President P.W. Botha commuted the death sentences of the Sharpeville Six on November 23, 1988. The group instead will serve prisoner terms ranging from 18 to 25 years. Theresa Ramashamole was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment and is currently the woman serving the longest sentence in South Africa.

"She leaves a legacy for generations to come who will, in decades ahead of us, continue to enjoy the fruits that democracy has brought to their communities across the length and breadth of our country, including Sharpeville her hometown," said the executive mayor.

Gauteng Premier Makhura, earlier on Sunday, described her as an outstanding leader and servant of the people of South Africa during his visit to her home accompanied by Executive Mofokeng.

"In her various leadership capacities and responsibilities, she has served the country with distinction, honour and selflessness.

"With her bravery she has made an invaluable contribution to the development of this region," said the premier.

Details for the memorial service and funeral service of Cllr. Theresa Ramashamole are as follows:

The official memorial service will take place on Wednesday, on 3 December 2015, at 15h00 to 17h00, at the Sharpeville Hall.

The funeral will, according to government policy, be a Special Official Funeral and the service will take place on 5 December 2015 at the Sharpeville community hall in Seiso str, starting at 08h00- 11h00, to Vanderbijlpark cemetery.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Ms. Lebo Mofokeng
Cell: 079 510 7324
Issued by: The Office of the Executive Mayor