Struggle activist has fallen

DUMSANI Samuel Phungula, a 49-year-old anti-apartheid activist and cadre of uMkhonto we Sizwe and the younger brother of late Major “Bhi” Bhekinkosi Phungula has died in a mysterious accident in his bedroom.

He shares his Bisley house with his brother.

He was admitted to St Anne’s Hospital in the early hours of Saturday on 23 July, bleeding from a head injury and unable to speak or to explain the cause of his injury.

Since admission to hospital, he had been on life support until Wednesday, 27 July when it was switched off by his brother after the hospital realised that if he survived he would be brain damaged.

The community of Edendale and Imbali are now officially informed about the loss of one of their sons, known by his revolutionary spirit and selflessness.

In the eighties, when there were few community activists (amashoshozela omphakathi), at the peak of the oppression of the apartheid government, Dumsani was already unyamazana and ijoni loMkhonto we Sizwe. He laid the foundation for the struggle of Pietermaritzburg with Skhumbuzo Ngwenya, Mduduzi Ndlovu, Muzi “Son of Man” Thusi, AS Chetty, Dr Chota Motala, etc., all fallen heroes.

While studying IT in Pretoria, through underground missions, he interacted with Mac Maharaj, the late Judge Langa and senior members of the ANC, who were members of “underground machinery”.

Soon after lauching the UDF on 20 August, 1983, at Mitchells Plein, Dumsani was a politically active pupil at Georgetown High School.

He joined the DCO Matiwane Youth Movement, a revolutionary youth organisation named after the revolutionary, DCO Matiwane.

The UDF called on communities to organise themselves into various sector organisations and Dumsani as one of the founders of Edendale Youth Organisation. He was also instrumental in the formation of civic organisations at Imbali and Edendale, which were at the forefront during the rent boycotts and the struggle against exploitation and poor service provision. He was a revolutionary, a freedom fighter, a political educator (commissar), an ICT technocrat and community activist. Some of his teachings helped the youth of Edendale and Imbali, recruited by organisations under the UDF to understand and to champion the vision of a desired South Africa.

This enabled them to contextualise the challenges faced by our communities under the then apartheid South Africa.

Through his leadership, we were introduced to the four pillars of our struggle - the mass democratic struggle, the armed struggle, the international support and the struggle for the proletariat.

Our understanding of our struggles helped us to understand, through mass democratic struggles, the role of major players and motive forces. Through the armed struggle, we learnt the importance of maintaining the value of life while participating in a just war without becoming “haters” and “destroyers”.

While he was part of negotiation teams during Inkatha and UDF infightings, Inkatha and apartheid dark forces burnt and wiped out his home in Mpumuza, killed his mother and elder brother Tim.

While in mourning, he was detained under Section 29; beaten and brutalised by the apartheid special force, led by Major Buchner, the counter-revolutionary expert deployed in PMB from Pretoria and later posted to Ulundi as the head of Zulu police.

Political conscientisation of young people then taught us not to hate South Africans from other cultural backgrounds and nationality. The course of the struggle was not about killing or murdering your opponents or those you regard as your enemies - it was based on the values of ubuntu or respect for human life.

The Freedom Charter was studied and understood as the minimum benchmark for a better South Africa. Our understanding of our vision for the South Africa we desired, helped us to understand our role as young people, and to understand and respect our leaders and their leadership.

During various operations we were involved i we were guided by Son of Man and that helped us not to destroy ourselves. This guided us properly towards achieving a truly democratic, non-racial and non-sexist unitary South Africa.

We salute his family for allowing us to have Dumsani in our midst and we say the hero has fallen, but his spirit lives on, and we must pick up his spear and advance the course and values that he stood for, and celebrate his short-lived life.

- Robbie Mkhize, family and a team of activists.

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