Call to do more for ordinary MK veterans
A former uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) operative who was arrested for bombing Mzamba Wild Coast Sun Hotel in the late 1980s, has called on government to take care of those who fought for the country, and not reduce the struggle to the cadreship of Mandelas and Sisulus.
Speaking to the Dispatch on the sidelines of the funeral of his fellow comrade, Ndibulele Ian Ndzamela, in Mthatha on Saturday, Phumzile Mayapi, who is now an advocate, said it was pathetic that some of the people who made sacrifices to free the country from the clutches of apartheid, were now homeless.
“We are not saying we want special treatment, but its pathetic to see a [military veteran] sweeping the streets in order to have a place to sleep,” said Mayapi.
Mayapi and Ndzamela were arrested in 1988 for the 1986 Mzamba Coast Sun bombing and both received the death sentence. However, they were released from prison by former Transkei ruler General Bantu Holomisa after he pardoned them as political prisoners.
In 1999, Ndzamela appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to shed insight on the Mzamba operation and was subsequently granted amnesty.He was also among MK combatants who were integrated into the South African National Defence Force.
Ndzamela died recently at the age of 54 at a Pretoria hospital following a short illness. He was laid to rest at the Northcrest cemetery on Saturday. He was accorded a military funeral service.
Mourners included ANC MP and deputy labour minister Nkosi Phatekile Holomisa, ANC PEC member and Ndzamela’s former high school mate Mahlubandile Qwase, Mayapi and King Sabata Dalindyebo local municipality mayor Dumani Zozo.
Mayapi said when apartheid was defeated, they had [as MK combatants] thought that they would return to rule the country.
“We were confused when we came back from exile because we thought we would be in charge as the MK, but life is so unfair.
“The issue of cadreship should not be about Mandela and Sisulu, but every other combatant should be honoured for their role,” he said.
Qwase, who described Ndzamela as humble and very politically conscious, told the Dispatch that he had met him at St Johns College High School in Mthatha in the late 1970s.
Despite his tender age, Ndzamela had immediately involved himself in politics, said Qwase. Ndzamela reportedly left the country and underwent military training at the age of 17.
“He had the courage to sacrifice his family and career for the good of the nation.“That is the level of selflessness he displayed,” Qwase said.
He appealed to ANC members to pay homage to those who made great sacrifices to the struggle.
Qwase also revealed that the office of premier Phumulo Masualle had signed a memorandum of understanding with the department of military veterans in trying to respond to the plight of destitute military veterans.
Through it, they will be afforded counselling while also ensuring that their offspring receive proper education, among other things.
He said there were engagements with other departments to see what kind of support could be given to veterans.