Organising Secretary of PEBCO, member of UDF, one of the ‘Pebco Three’
Lives of Courage
Twasile Champion Galela was born in Korsten, Port Elizabeth on 24 October 1947. He received his primary education at Hillskraal in Korsten. His family relocated to KwaZakhele in 1957 where he continued with his education at Ebhongweni Primary School and Zikweni Primary School before proceeding to Kwazakhele High School.
Galela married to Rita Siyoni and had two sons and a daughter, one of his sons passed on in 1996. He worked as a salesperson for a furniture shop and an ardent cameraman who took photographs at social events. Galela was also a sports person who loved martial arts and had a black belt in karate. He was co-opted to Port Elizabeth Black Civic Organisation (PEBCO) whilst he was working for Town Talk Furniture and was a member of the General Workers Union of South Africa.
Galela became one of the key leaders of PEBCO after it was revived in 1984, following almost three years of relative silence. He became the Organising Secretary under Qaqawuli Godolozi, and also worked closely with Sipho Hashe. Galela and Godolozi were detained in 1983 in Jeffrey’s Bay Police Station for recruiting youth for military training. They were released in January 1984 without being charged.
As a result of his political involvement, the security police constantly raided his home. He was among people who forced the Ibhayi Municipal Council to agree to them moving to Stofile near Seyisi.
On 8 May 1985 Galela and his comrades Sipho Hashe and Qaqawuli Godolozi were lured into a trap set up by the apartheid security police posing as members of a foreign embassy offering funds at the Hendrik Vervoed Airport, in Port Elizabeth. All three were kidnapped and taken to Fort Chalmers, an abandoned police post near Cradock in the Eastern Cape. There they were tortured, drugged, shot and their bodies burned on a diesel-soaked pyre. Some of their remains were dumped in the nearby Fish River.
After the collapse of apartheid in 1994, details of what happened to the ‘PEBCO Three’ emerged during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Joe Mamasela a self confessed askari (former ANC member who defected to the Security Police) admitted to assisting with the abduction and murder of Port Elizabeth activists Sipho Hashe, Qaqawuli Godolozi and Champion Galela, known as the Pebco Three, in May 1985, in Port Elizabeth. In addition, Herman Barend du Plessis, Johannes Martin van Zyl, Gideon Nieuwoudt and Gerhardus Johannes Lotz applied for amnesty for murder of the ‘PEBCO Three’.
Only two of the eight policemen received amnesty for their role in death of the ‘PEBCO Three. The TRC denied amnesty to other former security policemen because they had failed to make full disclosure. After 23 years, their remains were discovered in Post Chalmers Farm in Cradock and excavated by the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) missing person’s task team. The remains of the ‘PEBCO Three’ were finally buried at Zwide Cemetery in Port Elizabeth.
• Truth And Reconciliation Commission, (1996), Human Rights Violations, , Elisabeth Hashe, Case: EC0003/96 - East London. [online], Available at http://www.justice.gov.za/trc/hrvtrans/hrvel1/hashe.htm [Accessed on 26 August 2011]
• Masungwini N, (2010), Once a Hitman”¦ Mamasela and licensed gun puzzle from the Sunday World. [online], Available at http://www.sundayworld.co.za/News/Article.aspx?id=1166359 [Accessed on 26 August 2011]
• SAPA (1998) Hitman Paints Graphic Picture Of Pebco Three's Final Hours http://www.justice.gov.za/trc/media/1998/9803/s980309e.htm [Accessed on 26 August 2011]