Proud to vote in the peace his father built

2014-05-08 00:00

THANDO Maphumulo (27) strolled into the Villa Maria Primary School yesterday to cast his vote and found in a place once known for strife, calm and peace.

The school stands in the shadow of KwaZulu-Natal’s own Table Mountain in the Maqongqo District, once at the centre of the 1980s battles between the IFP and the United Democratic Front.

But yesterday Maphumulo observed that this was the first election that tensions in the area seem to have completely dissipated.

He pointed The Witness photographer to ANC, IFP and NFP party agents sitting alongside each other at their stands outside the voting station, soaking up the mid-morning sun. “You should take a photograph of that,” he said.

“It is historic. During the last election, party supporters were at each others’ throats. I remember coming with my mother to vote and she scolded the supporters for their intolerance,” he said.

Maphumulo’s mother is Thobekile Maphumulo, the mayor of Mkhambathini. His brother, Nhlakanipho, is the chief in the area.

His late father was Chief Mhlabunzima Maphumulo — known as the “Peace Chief” — who was gunned down in the driveway of his home in Pietermaritzburg in February 1991.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) found that his death was as a result of an apartheid-era hit squad.

Maphumulo was five years old when his father died and in the turmoil that followed, he was sent to live with relatives in the Eastern Cape and his brother was sent into hiding.

Years later, his quest to find out who his father was, led to him helping British PhD student Jill Kelly with her research on his father for her doctorate, which will soon be published as a book.

He had survived an earlier assassination attempt when his house was burnt down and he was forced out of Maqongo.For Maphumulo, voting is about keeping his father’s legacy alive and voting for peace.

“You know my father was offered a scholarship to study at Leeds University to get away from the violence. He refused to go, saying he could not run away and leave his people.

“Sometimes I wish he had gone and studied; he would still be around today.

“Then, I stand here on election day and respect the stand he took,” he said.

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