Zuma hands over home to Struggle veteran who escaped the noose by a whisker

Former president Jacob Zuma greets Struggle veteran Amos Ndwalane during the handing over of his new house in Lamontville in Durban on Friday.
Former president Jacob Zuma greets Struggle veteran Amos Ndwalane during the handing over of his new house in Lamontville in Durban on Friday.
Image: Thuli Dlamini

Struggle veteran Amos Ndwalane, who escaped the noose by a mere seven days due to the unbanning of the ANC in 1990, was allowed out of his hospital bed for two hours on Friday so that former president Jacob Zuma could hand over a new house in Lamontville, Durban, to him.  

The house was built by Durban company Enza Construction, which was approached by KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo, who had been asked by Zuma to help Struggle veterans who were struggling to make ends meet.

The three-bedroom house was completed on Friday last week. Before it was built Ndwalane and his family lived in an old house with roof that leaked.

After Dhlomo heard about his plight, he secured a donor to build him a decent house. His old house has also been completely renovated. Ndwalane, 70, was hospitalised last week after suffering from a lung problem. He was transported to his home in an ambulance from the City Hospital and paramedics kept a close watch on him throughout the proceedings.

The uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) veteran was due to be hanged after spending eight years in the Pretoria Central Prison for leading a mission that led to the death of the person who assassinated Lamontvile-based activist and anti-poverty campaigner Msizi Dube on April 25 1983. He was saved by the unbanning of the ANC in 1990, just seven days before he was scheduled to be hanged.

During his previous visit to Pretoria Central Prison, Ndwalane reduced everybody to tears when he recounted the names of his fellow comrades who were hanged while he was on death row. He also spoke about the pain of being away from his family and the excruciating anxiety that came with the prospect of walking up the 52-step stairway to the gallows - and his ultimate relief at the unbanning of the ANC which saved him from the noose.

Zuma described Ndwalane as one of the heroes of the Struggle for liberation in South Africa.

"He heard the words that 'you have been sentenced to death' directed at him," said Zuma.

Turning to Ndwalane’s wife, Nozipho, Zuma thanked her for her sacrifice and wondered what "went through her mind when she was waiting for her husband to be sentenced to death".

Zuma said the ANC wanted all those who struggled for the country's liberation, like Ndwalane, to live in dignity "because of many of the people who sacrificed suffer as if they made no contribution".

"It’s not that they were joining the Struggle because they wanted to be paid for it. No. But I think it is the duty of the nation to do something for them given what they did because they did not have time to work and accumulate money," said Zuma.

Earlier, Zuma and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule embarked on a final push for votes in KwaMashu township, north of Durban, ahead of the party’s Siyanqoba rally at Wadley Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.

They also paid a courtesy visit to the family of MK operative Andrew Zondo who was executed after he was found guilty of a bomb attack in a shopping centre in Amanzimtoti in which three adults and two children were killed in 1985.

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