Late Priscilla Nombewu remembered for her dedication to the struggle

PRISCILLA NOMBEWU
PRISCILLA NOMBEWU

She hid guns and guerrillas and marched against the oppression of women in 1956, forced removals and all things apartheid.

Mdantsane’s Priscilla Nombewu, 89 — who strode to Pretoria to tell the regime that striking a woman meant striking a rock — has died.

Nombewu was the mother of political activists, the SANDF’s Brig-Gen Siseko Nombewu and Buffalo City Metro councillor Mkhuseli Nombewu. She died at 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria last week.

Mkhuseli said his mother had dedicated most of her life to the struggle.

“She was one of the women who participated in the 1956 march and we, as her sons, later worked with her in the underground struggle.

“I recall in the 1980s when the special branch [apartheid secret police] came into our NU7 house and demanded people out of the house. She came out carrying my sister’s four-year-old child with her hands up in the air,” said Mkhuseli.

Nombewu was born in Cisira location in Peddie to Nomsisi and Tsolwane Nombewu.

She started her schooling in Cisira lower and higher primary schools. She then moved to Ayliff Secondary school, now called Nathaniel Pamla Senior Secondary School, where she passed her matric, or junior certificate (JC).

After high school she moved to Everton in the Vaal Triangle to train as a nurse. She later left nursing to become a dressmaker and designer.

“She focused on her sewing business, mainly doing ANC Women’s League regalia,” said Mkhuseli. “She marched in the August 9 1956 women’s march against pass laws and the removal of the apartheid state president JG Strydom.

“While she was active in the struggle, she met and married Kholekile Hoza in Port Elizabeth, who later died.”

She had three children, Mkhuseli, Siseko and Luyanda.

“Siseko and I went into exile for political activities and underwent military training as soldiers of Mkhonto weSizwe because of the influence from our parents,” said Mkhuseli.

Nombewu later married Titus Jobo, an MK Luthuli detachment activist. “Titus was killed in the Maseru raid by brutal white SADF soldiers and the killing of her husband resuscitated my mother’s political activism.

“She was one the few women in the Border region who responded to mama Albertina Sisulu’s call for revival of women’s organisations,” said Mkhuseli.

Nombewu formed the National Women’s Association Border region — later changed to East London Women’s Association — and was their first general secretary. She participated in the Ciskei bus boycott of 1983, resistance to the Koornhof forced removal bills, formation of the Release Mandela campaign, and served as secretary of the consumer boycott structure.

“While working for these structures and programmes of the ANC, she was also involved in MK underground work like harbouring MK cadres, keeping safe military hardware and other logistics,” he said.

She was arrested and detained without trial at Cambridge police station a number of times.

A memorial service is planned for early this week. The funeral is on Saturday at Mdantsane’s Nondlwana Methodist Church in NU8.

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