Former Umkhonto weSizwe operative left his mark on SA
Tributes are pouring in following the death of former Umkhonto weSizwe operative Ndibulele Ian Ndzamela, who survived a life sentence thanks to amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Mthatha-born Ndzamela died last Thursday, aged 54. He died at a Pretoria hospital following a short illness, his family said on Tuesday.
He cut his teeth in politics in his teenage years while a student at St John’s College in Mthatha. Due to the influence of underground ANC operatives who were busy recruiting young men and women to go in to exile, Ndzamela skipped the country at the age of 17.
He underwent military training in 1981 at Malanje Hojiyahenda and Caculama camps in Angola. A year later he left for the German Democratic Republic (GDR) to receive further military training.
On his return to Angola in 1983 he was taken to Caxito camp, which was used as an incubator to prepare combatants to infiltrate South Africa.
Family spokesperson Mwelase Ndzamela said his younger brother returned to South Africa via Zambia then Zimbabwe and subsequently infiltrated his country of birth in 1985.
On his return, Mwelase said, his brother got involved in a number of MK operations, which included the 1986 Mzamba Wild Coast Sun bomb blast mission, which led to their arrest, along with Phumzile Mayaphi, two years after the tragedy. They were both sentenced to death. At the time of his sentencing he was only 24.
Speaking on behalf of the ANC, Gift Ngqodi said Ndzamela was among the MK combatants who were integrated within the South African Defence Force (SADF), later renamed the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
“In 1999 he appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in East London to shed light on the Mzamba Wild Coast Sun operation and was subsequently granted amnesty,” said Ngqodi.
He described him as “a disciplined cadre who despised ill-discipline, factionalism, playing to the gallery and opportunism, a soldier who took ANC instruction and believed in a united strong alliance.
“He will always be remembered by both his former comrades and a new generation of South Africans as a unique example of a bold revolutionary leader, who embodied the great traditions of our liberation – selflessness, dedication, discipline, hard work, loyalty to the cause and commitment to the service of the people. From his childhood days in, he learned all about the hardship and injustice which his nation and his class suffered during the grim days of apartheid. At a very early age he analysed the economic, class basis of apartheid and capitalism and dedicated his life to the national democratic revolution, in both word and deeds.
“Let us honour the memory of one of our greatest revolutionaries by recommitting ourselves to the values and ideals for which Ndibulele Ndzamela lived and died – unselfish dedication to the struggle for the emancipation of the world from poverty, hunger and want,” said Ngqodi.
Mwelase described his brother as a “very quiet person, who was brought up in a very religious family. He was very humble.”
He is survived by his wife, Linda and their two children.
Ngqodi said Ndzamela will be accorded a military funeral service which will be held on Saturday September 29, by the Killion Dandala Methodist Church at Ncambedlana village in Mthatha.