Plans for Mpetha memorial

ANC Women's League members sing at the grave side of the Mpethas.

The Mpethas are now among several outstanding South Africans and unsung heroes who have been honoured for their involvement in the struggle for liberation.

Political fighter Oscar Mpetha and his wife Nomabhunga Rose were on Thursday November 28 recognised by the National Heritage Council of South Africa (NHC) for their role in fighting liberation.

The Oscar and Rose Mpetha project was launched and will start working to raise funds for headstones at their graves which are in poor condition.

The family is also in the process of establishing a foundation that will take care of Mpetha’s legacy and contribute to the development of Nyanga.

The event formed part of a heritage restoration project undertaken by the government to honour struggle fighters.

NHC chief executive officer, advocate Sonwabile Mangcotywa, was on hand on Thursday to honour the couple.

Mr Mangcotywa said research and documentation of their history would be conducted to enrich the “fading memories and scant information” about the couple.

He said the NHC was also interested in establishing the provincial chapter of the liberation route connecting the footsteps of the Mpethas.

“It is important to preserve the heritage of our liberation through the experiences of the activists and the activities in which they participated. Other countries have done so and are able to present historic evidence to the generations that should defend and build their nations into the future. Our Resistance and Liberation Heritage Route is a national project that aims at discovering these stories that have not been told to also become part of the main narratives and iconic names of the liberation heritage,” said Mr Mancotywa.

He said Mr Mpetha’s activities in the struggle included hosting meetings that defined the direction of politics in labour movements and communities in Nyanga, the formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF), youth uprising of 1976 and his wife was also among the leaders of the 1956 Women’s March.

He added that the launch of their legacy project would allow the country to better tell their story and appreciate it as heritage.

Some of the sites that are considered to be part of the Oscar and Rose Mpetha Liberation Heritage Route include Mpethas’ house in Nyanga East,Rocklands community centre in Mitchell’s Plain where the UDF was launched, the Presbyterian Church, Assemblies of God church, and the Methodist Church all in Nyanga

“The vision of the NHC is of a people proud of their African heritage and has a mandate to co-ordinate and support transformation of heritage, and to facilitate equity and redress for marginalised heritage,” he said.

Themba Mpetha said he and the rest of the family were excited that his parents were being honoured.

African National Congress member and former Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Zou Kota-Fredericks, said the honouring of the Mpethas was the start of good things for freedom fighters in the country and praised the work being done by the NHC to acknowledge Struggle heroes.

Oscar Mpetha was among a small group of political prisoners who were released with the Rivonia trialists in October 1989 and was part of the historic welcome rally hosted to receive Walter Sisulu, Raymond Mhlaba, Ahmed Kathrada, Adrew Mlangeni and Elias Motswaledi.

Mama Nomabhunga led women in the Nyanga Vigilance Association and was instrumental in setting up vigilance associations in other townships, working with stalwarts such as Nelie Jibiliza, Anny Silinga, Dora Tamani and Mildred Holo.

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