Andrew Mandla Lekoto Masondo

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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.

First name: 
Middle name: 
Mandla Lekoto
Last name: 
Date of birth: 
Location of birth: 
Soweto, Johannesburg,South Africa.
Date of death: 
Location of death: 
Tshwane ,South Africa

Andrew Mandla Lekoto Masondo was born October 27,1936 Sophiatown, Johannesburg.The son of barber from rural Natal and a doctor's receptionist,Masondo absorbed politics from his mother,who supported the ANC.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 where he joined the African National CongressYouth League ( ANCYL). He later moved to the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg where he qualified in BSc honours specialising in Applied Mathematics in 1959,he returned to Fort Hare for a one-year teacher's diploma.Masondo joined the African National Congress’ (ANC) military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1962.Masondo then taught mathematics at Fort Hare for three years, a period during which he worked to rally support for the outlawed ANC in the rural eastern Cape and joined an underground cell of the Communist Party (CP). 

He became a Commander of the Victoria East MK group. In 1963 he was arrested for his involvement in MK activities and convited of sabotage. 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.In early 1976 Masondo was released ,banned and restricted for two years to Durban's Umlazi township,although hios family lived in Johannesburg.In 1977 he returned to Lusaka,he was co-opted into the ANC's National Executive Committee.He 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 in 1981, 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.

From 1987 to early 1990 he was principal of the high school at Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (SOMAFCO),the ANCschool in Tanzania,but was again removed after teachers complained about his performance.there was a period that he was an ANC representative in Uganda,Masondo returned to SA in 1994.Awarded the military rank of major-general,from 1996 he chaired the committee in charge of integrating the various military formations that merged to form the new SANDF .He retired in 2001.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 [accessed 12 February 2009]
• Gail M. Gerhart, Teresa Barnes, Antony Bugg-Levine, Thomas Karis, Nimrod Mkele .From Protest to Challenge 4-Political Profiles (1882-1990) (last accessed 01 August 2019)

Last updated : 01-Aug-2019

This article was produced by South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011

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