Andrew Zondo was a trained Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) operative. He was renowned for detonating a bomb at Sanlam Centre in Amanzimtoti killing civilians on December 23, 1985. As part of MK, a military wing of the African National Congress (ANC), he was in combat with the South African apartheid government in order to achieve liberation for the oppressed indigenous people of the land. In other words, he was a freedom fighter in the eyes of the oppressed and a terrorist in the eyes of the apartheid government.
1 Early life
2 Amanzimtoti bombing
Andrew Zondo joined the ANC when he was 16 years of age, and went into exile. He initially wanted to further his studies in exile but eventually trained as a guerrilla in Angola for the purpose of fighting the South African apartheid government. His full names are Andrew Sibusiso Zondo, but is commonly referred to as Andrew Zondo. He grew up at KwaMashu Township which is situated in the outskirt of Durban. He attended Ngazane Lower Primary School, then went to Phakama Higher Primary and eventually did his high school education at the famous Nhlakanipho High School in KwaMashu, before he left for exile around the 1980’s. He however did not complete his high school education. He developed passion for politics at an early age.
On December 20, 1985, the South African apartheid security force carried out a raid in Lesotho killing nine people. In retaliation Durban MK operatives including Andrew Zondo placed a bomb (limpet mine) at the Amanzimtoti Sanlam shopping centre on December 23, 1985 killing three adults and two children while other 40 people were injured. For this act Andrew Zondo is widely reviled by white population in South Africa.
Irma Bencini (48) was one of the deceased. Her stepdaughter, Debbie Scott, an Amanzimtoti resident, recounted that fateful day.
“I remember that day when we were all excitedly preparing for Christmas. I went to the then OK Bazaar near Sanlam Centre and my stepmother said she needed to go into the nearby supermarket. Within a few minutes I heard a loud bang and realised she was in danger. I rushed to the scene and found her body. She died instantly… My dad Mario has never been the same since then, and that incident will forever haunt us. Surely Zondo knew that planting a bomb in a supermarket was going to kill innocent people.
Oliver Tambo the former president of the ANC indicated that the killing of civilians was against the ANC policy, and accordingly he disapproved of the bombing by Andrew Zondo but in relation to the bombing Oliver Tambo went further to say:
We are [now] beginning to see South Africans of all races burying their loved ones who have died in the South African situation.
This is one of the grotesque highlights of the dark days of apartheid in South Africa in which innocent people perished.
Andrew Zondo was later captured on December 29, 1985 by the South African apartheid security force. He was prosecuted, found guilty and sentenced to death. He was executed in Pretoria on September 9, 1986. The judge that presided over this case was Justice Ramon Leon. Andrew Zondo died at the age of 19. As he was being hanged he bellowed "Amaaandla!!!" in defiance and in the spirit that the struggle would continue after his demise. The other accomplices, Mr Phumezo Nxiweni (20) and Mr Stanley Sipho Bhila (31), who were acquitted in court were later extrajudicially executed by the Security Branch.
The Lovu Primary School was renamed Andrew Zondo Primary School in honour of Andrew Zondo as a cadre of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). This move was vehemently opposed by political opposition parties in South Africa on the basis that Andrew Zondo was a bad example to young children as he was a convicted killer.
Kingsway Road in Amanzimtoti was also renamed after Andrew Zondo in his honour as a stalwart of the South African liberation struggle. This development also drew criticism from political opposition parties. Their argument was that it was morally unjustifiable to honour a person who was a killer of innocent victims.
Whilst he is despised by many for the heinous Amanzimtoti bombing, he is held in high esteem by others as a martyr for the South African liberation struggle along other names such as Solomon Mahlangu who was executed by the apartheid government in 1979.
A certain Ernest Roets once questioned General Siphiwe Nyanda, former Chief of Staff of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), about the hero worshipping of Adrew Zondo, and Siphiwe Nyanda responded as follows:
“The fact that Andrew Zondo was engaged in such an act, [it] does not make him an outcast in our own vocabulary. He is still our hero, he is still a hero, I agree.”