Vasco was a person for the people

Vasco Mlamli "Rusty" Radebe was an activist of note. At an early age the injustice of apartheid inspired him to join the struggle for liberation.

But this came at a cost because his activism affected his education.

Born in Atteridgeville, Tshwane, on September 4 1964, Radebe started school in Atteridgeville, where he also did his secondary education.

It was during high school at Flavius Mareka that his student activism blossomed.

His outspokeness against apartheid caught the attention of the security police and then the harassment started.

The danger of being jailed or killed was always present but this did not deter Radebe. Under pressure he skipped the country in 1980 to join the ANC military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), in exile.

This disrupted his education. But he pursued his studies in exile, completing a high school diploma, then diplomas in socio-political science from the Lenin International School, Moscow, in 1986 and another one in intelligence and security studies from the Max Academy, Berlin, in 1982.

While in exile Radebe travelled around Africa and the rest of the world. He enlisted in the security team of ANC leader Oliver Tambo and travelled with the ANC leadership to South Africa for the first talks with the apartheid regime in 1990.

While in the country he was kidnapped by askaris (former MK cadres turned government vigilantes) and tortured. He escaped death.

Another milestone, in 1990, was his marriage to the late Ina Kayamba of Zambia.

When former MK members were reintegrated after their unbanning, he was employed by National Sorghum Breweries in Atteridgeville as a loss control manager and later as stock control manager from 1991 to 1997.

In 1998 he joined the government's security establishment, a job he held until his death on May 28.

A people's person, he was always the entertainer in the company of his acquaintances. And at Vasco's Place in Selbourne Side, Atteridgeville, there was never a dull moment. This is where people met to rejuvenate and wash away the week's blues.

Radebe was the perfect host, mingling and chatting with his patrons. He also belonged to several social clubs in Atteridgeville and brought his extended family together through social gatherings.

Radebe is survived by two children, his mother, brother and four sisters.

He will be buried at Zandfontein Cemetery (formerly Lady Selborne) tomorrow. The service will start at 8am at the Tshwane South College Hall in Khoza Street, Atteridgeville.