Activist’s family find closure after 25 years

2013-06-24 00:00

JUNE 16 was the final chapter for the Then­jwayo family in their quest for answers about their brother’s death.

Nkosinathi Innocent Thenjwayo from Imbali township was ambushed and executed in 1988 by members of the security branch. His family were simultaneously overjoyed and sad as they travelled to Mpumalanga where he was killed.

His elder brother Vusi, who resides in Pelham, described Thenjwayo as a selfless man who sacrificed everything to see his people free. “We have been searching for clues for more than two decades and we finally have closure as a family since we have been able to trace the spot where our brother was killed."

He said his brother was ambushed seven kilometres outside Piet Retief in Mpumalanga after he was betrayed by one of his comrades.

“We would not have been able to figure this out if it was not for the help of the Piet Retief mayor, who assisted us in our quest,” he said.

Vusi said Nkosinathi’s combat name in Umkhonto we Sizwe circles was “Pablo Moloi”.

“In 1982 he was admitted to the University of Zululand and enrolled for a Bachelor of Science degree. He also joined the South African Student Congress [Sasco],” said Vusi.

He was at the forefront of student protests against the Tricameral Parliament in 1983. “His activities at the University of Zululand made him very unpopular with the authorities at the university, who accused him of inciting student violence and of spreading communist ideals,” said Vusi.

He said this led to his detention. “When he came out of detention he was expelled from the university, only to be readmitted after the intervention of the lawyers for human rights lead by Mrs [Victoria] Mxenge, who successfully annulled the expulsion order.”

He said although Nkosinathi died at the age of 25, he left an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of those whose lives he touched. “Imbali community decided to name ward 19 after him because of his political involvement and teachings,” he said.

People who knew him in the underground movement can assist with information as a documentary on Nkosinathi’s life is being planned.

Dexter Thenjwayo, Nkosinathi’s younger brother, said this was a huge relief for the family as they were finally able to perform the traditional rituals for their brother 25 years after he was killed. “I would like my brother to be remembered as an academic who became a soldier for the emancipation of his people and the country,” he said.

Dexter said June 16 was not only emotional for the family, but also for his assassin, who broke down in tears as he recounted how the ambush was carried out.

Nkosinathi’s biography can be found on The Witness website.

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