Names: Masondo, Andrew
Born: 27 October 1937, Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Died: 20 April 2008, Tshwane
In summary: Political activist and MK Commissar, Robben Island prisoner. Later in life he played a key role in the formation of the new SA National Defence Force.
Andrew Masondo was born in Soweto, Johannesburg. He attended school at Saint Angsgurs Primary School in 1946 and matriculated in 1954 from the Saint Peters Secondary School at Rosettenville in Johannesburg. In 1955 he went to Fort Hare University in the Eastern Cape. He later moved to the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg where he qualified in BSc honours specialising in Applied Mathematics.
Masondo joined the African National Congress’ (ANC) military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1962. He became a Commander of the Victoria East MK group. In 1963 he was arrested for his involvement in MK activities. Masondo spent 13 years in prison, he was one of the first MK members to be imprisoned on Robben Island. Imprisonment did not deter Masondo from pursuing his academic career; he obtained his second honours degree while serving a long jail term on Robben Island.
After his release, Masondo left the country and enrolled in a Brigade Commanders Course in Moscow. He served as a MK Commissar from 1977-1985, and again from 1991-1994. According to Truth and Reconciliation Commission documents, Masondo was also associated with the Morris Seabelo Rehabilitation Centre in Angola, known as Quatro, and was censured after reports of human rights abuses and inhumane treatment at the camp surfaced. The camp was formed to deal with undisciplined ANC cadres and those suspected of involvement in passing intelligence to apartheid agents.
After the unbanning of the liberation movements and return of the exiles, Masondo joined the South African Defence Force and played an instrumental role in the integration of military units to form the new South African National Defence Force (SANDF). General Masondo was also a trained traditional healer and contributed hugely to Indigenous Knowledge Systems. His contribution was reflected on the Seek a Cure campaign concept paper that he had prepared within ilKSSA Trust. He was the Chairperson of iIKSSA's Vlakplaas Project, to transform the farm into a National Centre for Traditional Healing and Reconciliation; he was also an iIKSSA and Liliesleaf Trustees Board member, and a member of the Strategic Committee of the Freedom Park Trust.
Masondo was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2005, he died on Sunday 20 April 2008 in the One Military Hospital in Tshwane at the age of 71. He is survived by five children and six grandchildren.
Robben Island Museum/Mayibute archive
- (2008) 'ANC veteran Andrew Masondo dies'. Mail & Guardian[online] 21 April. Available at:mg.co.za [accessed 12 February 2009]