Richard Barney Molokoane (1957 - 1985)
The Order of Mendi for Bravery in
Profile of Richard Barney Molokoane
Richard Barney Lekgotla Molokoane was born on 27 August 1957 in Tladi, Soweto.
Molokoane became politically active during the student uprising of 1976. Like many of his contemporaries he went into exile and joined the African National Congress and the June 16 Detachment of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK).
Proud of his role as a fighter for freedom, Molokoane was scrupulously faithful to the ideals of the ANC and MK. Although he was gifted in many fields, he was always eager to learn through listening and debating. He was a disciplined soldier, always concerned with maintaining good health and peak physical condition. He was particularly fond of the rigours of survival courses, which he believed prepared him for any contingency. As a commander he was exceptional, taking particular care with the safety and well-being of those under his command.
Immediately after completing his course of training outside the country in 1978 he was selected for a reconnaissance mission. When his unit came into contact with enemy forces in Zeerust, Molokoane was shot in the leg but he managed to outwit and outmanoeuvre his adversaries during a 200km retreat to base.
His tactical ingenuity and leadership were recognised and he was soon promoted to commander. From 1978 till 1985 when he was killed, Molokoane led repeated missions into the country, successfully completing a number of dangerous missions, including the daring and sophisticated sabotage of the SASOL plant and the shelling of the headquarters of the South African Defence Force in Voortrekkerhoogte.
After a successful mission to sabotage the industrial complex at Secunda, his unit was intercepted by enemy forces. From a reconstruction of events based on local eye-witness accounts, the battle which ensued lasted four hours in which the three members of the unit fought courageously until the end. They died when enemy helicopters dropped a napalm bomb, incinerating the comrades instantly.
History and a committed allegiance to the cause of liberation bequeathed that Richard Barney Lekgotla Molokoane should shoulder an onerous responsibility, one that ought not be the fate of any young man in a normal society. Yet as a soldier in MK, “Buda” as his closest friends affectionately called him, executed duties with distinction, being equally effective in the underground and in public work. He will forever be remembered for his exceptional bravery, his total dedication to the cause of freedom, and for his rousing leadership which inspired the loyalty and trust of those he commanded. Molokoane gave up his life so that others may be free