Andrew Zondo: Why I did it?

The KwaMuhle Museum, which conveniently sits on the outskirts of Durban’s CBD, houses a number of permanent exhibitions, one of which drew a lot of attention when it was first opened in November 2008. The exhibition centres around Andrew Zondo, the young man executed for the deaths of the five people who died as a result of a shopping centre bombing that took place in Amanzimtoti, just a few days before Christmas in 1985.

The Andrew Zondo exhibition at the KwaMuhle Museum

The Andrew Zondo exhibition at the KwaMuhle Museum

Intended to be conciliatory rather than inflammatory, the exhibition considers the reasons why a young man felt it necessary to take such drastic steps that would not only cause great harm to others, but ultimately result in his own death. While the loss of any life is never excusable, the exhibition considers Zondo’s motivations for his actions.

Massacres have been perpetrated against civilians: Mamelodi, a massacre. Uitenhage, a massacre. Botswana, a massacre….certainly, we are beginning see South Africans of all races [burying] their loved ones….The whole of South Africa is beginning to bleed….If I had been approached by an ANC unit and asked whether they should go and plant a bomb at a supermarket I would have said, ‘Of course not’. But when our units are faced with what is happening all around them, it is understandable that some of them should say: ‘Well, I may have to face being disciplined, but I am [still] going to do this.’ ”, ANC president, Oliver Tambo, during an interview shortly after the Amanzimtoti bombing

Supposedly a retaliatory attack for the death of nine ANC cadres who were killed during a raid in Lesotho, by the age of nineteen Andrew Sibusiso Zondo had already witnessed the horrors unleashed by the apartheid police on his community. In KwaMashu, where Zondo lived, children playing on the streets were gunned down by the police, and in a separate, unrelated incident Zondo found himself indiscriminately arrested, for no apparent reason. Wanting to make a difference, Zondo joined the ANC at the age of 16, leaving South Africa for Angola, where he received military training from Umkhonto weSizwe. Zondo returned to South Africa a trained soldier, specialised in weapon making.

Kingsway Road in Amanzimtoti has been renamed Andrew Zondo Road

Kingsway Road in Amanzimtoti has been renamed Andrew Zondo Road

Just two days after the attack in Maseru, Lesotho, Zondo placed a bomb in a dustbin at Sanlam Centre in Amanzimtoti. The mall was bustling with white South Africans doing their last-minute Christmas shopping. The dustbin was near an SAA accredited travel agent, which Zondo associated with the government. Five people were killed by the bomb, including two children aged eight and two. Another 40 people were badly injured.

Within days of the attack Zondo had been captured by the South African security forces. He was prosecuted, found guilty, and sentenced to death. On the 9th September 1986 Andrew Zondo was executed at the Pretoria central prison. He was nineteen years old.

To understand more about what happened on the morning of the 23rd December 1985, and the events leading up to it, pay a visit to the KwaMuhle Museum

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