Jul 2006

Role models

As a young woman Sibongile Mkhabela experienced the cruelty of apartheid. She became involved in student politics when she served as secretary for the South African Student‘s Movement. She later became a member of an action committee, which consisted of pupils from various schools in Soweto. This led to the Soweto Students Representative Council. As a pupil at Naledi High School in 1976, she was at the forefront of the march by pupils from Naledi High School to the Orlando Board Offices in Soweto. The Uprising led to the arrest of Mkhabela and other student leaders. She was jailed for three years.   From 1995 to 1999, Mkhabela was director of programmes and projects in the office of the then Deputy President, Thabo Mbeki.  Today, Mkhabela is Chief Executive Officer of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.  
The young people of 1976, risked their lives to challenge the unfair laws of the time, says Lieutenant Colonel Daisy Tshiloane of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). Tshiloane was a pupil at Tlakula High School in Ekurhuleni when the 1976 Soweto Uprising started.  She said arrests and the killing of school children like Hector Pietersen, strengthened their courage to fight against the apartheid government.  Tshiloane and others were arrested and released after a week. She fled to exile in Swaziland where she joined the ANC. She later became a member of the Umkhonto we Sizwe in Angola.  After doing military training in the former Soviet Union, Tshiloane became a medical officer in the ANC camps in Angola. She joined the SANDF in 1992.
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