In 1982, Raditsela became deeply engaged in politics after becoming a member of the Chemical Workers' Industrial Union (CWIU), an affiliate of the Federation of South African Trade Unions (FOSATU). During this period he was working for a Dunlop factory in Benoni on the eastern Witwatersrand. In 1983, he was elected to the position of a shop steward based on his vocal criticism on wage issues and working conditions within the company. Shortly after his appointment, Raditsela was elected to the position of a senior shop steward and went on to hold various positions in the CWIU and FOSATU.
He was later elected chairperson of the national CWIU Dunlop Shop Stewards Council, and played a key role in organising the 1984 Dunlop strike in Benoni, Ladysmith, and Durban plants. During this time, Raditsela also served in the branch executive of the CWIU. He was later elected vice-chairman in 1984, and also served on the national executive of the union. Additionally, he was elected chairperson of the FOSATU Transvaal Region in 1984. The following year he became vice-chairperson while he also served on FOSATU's executive committee and central committee.
Throughout his tenure in the labour movement, Raditsela was an outspoken advocate for the right of women workers. As a result, he contributed to the improvement of the working environment through actions such as his involvement in a campaign against sexual harassment which exposed the practice of women trading sex for jobs, and negotiations for a maternity agreement.
On 4 May 1985 while walking with friends to fetch a rental car in Tsakane Township Raditsela was accosted by the police. He was assaulted and dragged into the police vehicle, and detained under the Internal Security Act. While in custody he was tortured, beaten and left unconscious at the union’s administrative offices. He was taken to Baragwanath hospital where he died on 6 May 1985. His death sent shockwaves through the community of workers and his comrades. Over 100 000 workers around the country held memorial services in the memory of Raditsela.He was buried on 14 May 1985.
Subsequent to his death, his family pushed for an inquest which began on 6 December 1985. The pathologist engaged by the family reported that Radistela’s bleeding on the side of the head which was consistent with trauma. The police claimed that he fell from a Casspir (a police vehicle) and that his fall could not be prevented. At the end of the inquest in June 1986, the magistrate found no one criminally responsible for the death of Raditsela. The family sued the Minister of Law and Order. He agreed to an out of court settlement where he paid R 33 000 to the dependants of Raditsela without admitting liability.
In recognition for his contribution in the struggle against Apartheid, a clinic was named after Andries Raditsela in Gauteng.
• New York Times, ( 1985), AROUND THE WORLD; South African Unions Call For 2-Hour Strike, from the New York Times, 11 May, [online], Available at www.nytimes.com [Accessed 07 November 2012]
• South African Institute of Race Relations 1987-88, (Johannesburg)
• Fosatu - Historical Papers - University of the Witwatersrand, [online], Available on www.historicalpapers.wits.ac.za [Accessed 07 November 2012]