Anti-Apartheid activist Zola Nqini honoured by Nelson Mandela Bay

DECEMBER 8, 2015

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, with the Department of Arts and Culture, will on Wednesday afternoon honour a local anti-apartheid activist, Zola Nqini, by unveiling a statue and hosting a memorial lecture - the day he was murdered 33 years ago in Maseru, Lesotho.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Dr Danny Jordaan, will officiate at the statue unveiling while Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, will deliver the keynote address at the Memorial Lecture a few hours later.

Nqini was born in 1935 and was married to Noxolo, then a bank staffer in Mthatha, with whom he had four children, Kokela, Yondela, Onjama and Buhle. He held a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Fort Hare. 

A serving a six-year sentence on Robben Island, in 1970, he was banished to Illinge. He later left the then Transkei homeland and relocated to Mdantsane in East London where he worked for the Housing Council until he was again arrested in 1977.

He was sentenced to six months imprisonment and on his release left for Lesotho. He found employment at CARE, an American Aid organisation, in 1979 until 1982 just before his murder.

About a week after he was appointed the African National Congress' (ANC) chief representative in Lesotho, Nqini was murdered by SA Defence Force Special Forces operatives with twenty-nine other South Africans and twelve Lesotho nationals during a raid in the middle of the night on ANC houses and a block of flats in Maseru in 1982.

During a Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearing, Phyllis Naidoo described the crime scene as follows: "...everything was just blown to smithereens and blood... I mean it was like an abattoir. And just to see Zola’s body there, you know with these red tartan underpants and he was such a shy human being, you know, gentle, gentle, gentle...”

The unveiling of the Zola Nqini statue will take place at the Zola Nqini Square, in front of the Uitenhage Town Hall before the Zola Nqini Memorial Lecture will be held at the Uitenhage Town Hall.

Image: Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Dr Danny Jordaan, will officiate at the statue unveiling while Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, will deliver the keynote address at the Memorial Lecture a few hours later.