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Ex-PF-Zapu activist's remains reburied after over 4 decades

by Staff reporter
02 Mar 2020 at 09:04hrs | Views
THE remains of former-PF-Zapu political activist, John Ndebele, who died more than four decades ago, were reburied yesterday at Denver Farm on the outskirts of Bulawayo.

Ndebele died in Malawi on November 10, 1977, and his remains were repatriated to Zimbabwe two weeks ago.  

He sneaked out of the country in 1963 after the Rhodesian government had launched a manhunt for him following his political activities.

Speaker after speaker spoke well of Ndebele describing him as a humble and dedicated cadre who tenaciously fought against the Rhodesian government.

They commended him for working behind the scenes to bring about Zimbabwe's independence. Gibson Mayisa, one of the senior Zipra military intelligence personnel who operated in Lusaka under the command of the late national hero Dr Dumiso Dabengwa during the liberation struggle, said Ndebele worked as their "underground man" who provided them with vital information on plots by the Rhodesian Forces.

"Despite having left Rhodesia, Ndebele was well connected and he would furnish us with information regarding plots and plans by the Ian Smith regime to attack our bases in Zambia. We relied so much on him for such intelligence. I got to know of Ndebele in the late 1950s when we engaged in political activism and I remember at one time we hid inside a wardrobe when police came looking for us," he said.

Mayisa said Ndebele provided them with vital information that helped them evade attacks by the Rhodesian Forces.  Women's Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Dr Sithembiso Nyoni said Ndebele was a unifier whose legacy should be cherished forever.

"My brother (Ndebele) was a unifier and as a family we should follow in his footsteps. It is known that the Ndebele family is a great and united political family and we want to maintain that legacy. I also want to thank his children for playing a big role in the repatriation of his remains from Malawi for reburial here and such spirit of unity must continue in the family," she said.

Ndebele's widow, Mrs Rhoda Ndebele, said she was relieved when her husband's remains were repatriated from Malawi.

"It has always been my wish to have my husband's remains repatriated for reburial home. I am grateful now that 42 years after his death, he has finally been brought home to lie next to his siblings and to me it's a great honour," she said.

Ndebele's eldest son, Mthandazo said it took them five years to complete the process of repatriating their father's remains.

"It has always been a family issue to have my father's remains repatriated and that process started five years ago. We finally got the repatriation order from Malawi six months ago and we went to Malawi two weeks ago and brought his remains back," he said. He said his father assisted exiled Zimbabweans to acquire Malawi documents to enable them to return home and continue with the liberation struggle.

"During that time being children, we didn't know what he was up to, but then we were seeing lots of uncles who were coming to our home in Malawi such as Cdes Dumiso Dabengwa, Obert Mpofu and Gibson Mayisa. It was only later in life that we realised that he was busy doing an underground business of getting Malawian documentations for exiled Zimbabweans so that they could return and operate back home which was then Rhodesia until his untimely death in 1977," he said.  

Mthandazo said his father used to stay in Luveve with his late brother, Samuel, who operated a shop in Barbourfields called Mpilo Trading Centre.  

Samuel Ndebele was the late Vice-President Dr Joshua Nkomo's right hand man.

Born on June 3 in 1933 in a family of 10, Ndebele attended both primary and secondary school in Bulawayo.  

In 1963 due to his political activism, he fled the country to Malawi. He was assisted by two colleagues to sneak out of the county.  Ndebele was made to hide in a baggage compartment of a train from Bulawayo to Harare before he flew to Malawi.

In Malawi, he enrolled at Blantyre Polytechnic for an apprenticeship programme in railway engineering and after graduating he worked as plate layer. He was among the first group of 17 blacks  plate layers that went for training at Blantyre Polytechnic under a programme funded by the British government during the transition period when Malawi attained its independence in 1964.

Ndebele rose through the ranks to become a chief permanent ware inspector under the Malawi Railways. He was a project manager who spearheaded the construction of the Nakala railway line linking Malawi and Mozambique.

He worked with a Scottish engineer who structured the designs. Ndebele mysteriously died in a motor trolley accident and was buried in Limbe in Malawi after the Rhodesian government refused to accept his body due to his political activism.

He is survived by his wife, 14 children, 16 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

Source - chronicle