APLA Commander cries foul
The timing is relevant to peek into this literacy work, The Son of the soil: My Life As A Freedom Fighter by Azanian People’s Army Director of operations, Letlapa Mphahlele. Kwela Books published it in 2002.
South Africa commemorates the 21 March 1960 Sharpeville massacre. Fifty-nine years ago, security police shot and killed, arguably, 69 protesters and wounded 180 others. The Pan African Congress organised the peaceful protest against the pass laws. The bloody misfortune was one of many by the apartheid regime that triggered the formation of APLA – PAC military wing.
Stubborn as an arse, Mphahlele’s father had to drag him to the initiation school. He loathed that traditional practice. His stint as mzalwane (a born-again) also came to an abrupt end when a knife-wielding lad revealed to him that was dating one of his church sisters that Mphahlele fancied.
He took his father’s money and illegally crossed into Botswana neighbouring as a refugee. A Botswana police officer offered him forms to fill and be an ANC member – he had no political home. But writing manuals of Robert Sobukwe influenced him to deflect to the PAC.
Ultimately, he joined APLA and rose with the ranks to become the Director Of Operations. This is the man who ordered a several ambushes against the ‘Boers’ in South Africa. He spent harsh days at, particularly Zimbabwean and Botswana, prisons charged with anything from terrorism to common criminality.
After the 1994 democratic elections, Mphahlele was steadfast that Black South Africans only attained the freedom to vote, but not the economic power, and the land was still in the hands of the colonisers. He lamented political prisoners who are still languishing in prisons. Above all, he blames PAC’s poor leadership that cost the party the 1994 elections. “APLA was fighting while the ANC was scoring political points,” he said.