By Patience Nyangove
SOUTH African politician and former Robben Island inmate Mosiuoa ‘Terror’ Lekota has described the late Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo as the Nelson Mandela of Namibia.
Lekota, a former Minister of Defence and African National Congress member, who now leads the Congress of the People (COPE) party in a telephone interview on Tuesday, said he met Ya Toivo in 1978 on Robben Island, when he was moved Section B, where the likes of the late South African struggle stalwarts, including Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Govan Mbeki were incarcerated.
“First of all, I would like to say I was taken to Robben Island in late 1976 and he (Ya Toivo) was already on Robben Island. He was staying in Section B, together with the likes of Govan Mbeki and Walter Sisulu. He was isolated from other Namibians. The authorities saw him essentially as the Nelson Mandela of the Namibian people,” Lekota said.
He said he was inspired by Ya Toivo’s tenacity and leadership qualities, which saw him refusing to compromise on his beliefs and the struggle for his country’s independence.
“Comrade Andimba was very firm in his belief that South Africa was governing them illegally and extending its policies to Namibia against a United Nations interim resolution that South Africa should cease its administration of Namibia,” Lekota said.
“South Africa was trying to make Namibia one of its provinces, while ill-treating Namibians in their own motherland. Comrade Andimba uncompromisingly refused to talk to any South African regime minister, because he refused to recognise them.
“I remember when the then Minister of Police Louis Le Grange visited Robben Island, and he (Le Grange) wanted to talk to him. Comrade Andimba refused to say a single word to him the whole time.
“I was inspired by his steadfastness. I learnt a lot from him. I learnt about the struggle of the Namibian people through him. I attended political classes with him, where we learnt a lot. I admired his leadership qualities,” Lekota said.
He said Ya Toivo felt at home in Section B, with other South African political prisoners, because they spoke the same languages.
“He spoke South African languages, so he was always at home with South African prisoners. In 1978, I was moved to his section, and of course I had known about him way before I met him, through his political trial in Pretoria. He was one of the first prisoners tried under the Terrorism Act No. 83 of 1967,” Lekota said.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015