Names: Molokoane, Richard
Born: 27 August 1957, Tladi, Soweto, Gauteng (then Transvaal), South Africa
In summary: Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) soldier
Richard Barney Lekgotla Molokoane was born on 27 August 1957 in Tladi, Soweto. Molokoane became politically active during the student uprising of 1976, and like many of his contemporaries he went into exile. In exile, he joined the African National Congress (ANC) 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, 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 outmanoeuvre his opposition and complete the 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, undertaking a number of dangerous missions, including the sabotage of the SASOL plant and the shelling of the headquarters of the South African Defence Force in Voortrekkerhoogte. After sabotaging 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, when their opponents dropped a napalm bomb, incinerating the comrades instantly.
As a soldier in MK, "Buda" as his closest friends affectionately called him, was effective in both underground and 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. For his inspiring leadership, his exceptional bravery and readiness to risk his life fighting for liberation, the South African Government bestowed Richard Barney Lekgotla Molokoane with the order of Mendi for Bravery in Gold at the National Orders awards on 19 October 2004.