BONISWA NCUKANA (1949 – 1985)
Political activist, labour union organizer, gender equality campaigner, Apla guerrilla and commissar M’Afrika Boniswa Ncukana was brutally murdered in an ambush arranged by the SADF military intelligence and Lesotho armed militia in Qasha’s Nek on the borders with the Eastern Cape in March 1985.
She was in a reconnaissance operation to open infiltration routes for Apla cadres coming in and going out of occupied Azania. She was killed along with other PAC office bearers and Apla operatives. These were Siyabulela Thwabu, Rex Meyisi Mketi, Cassius Barabus and Thami Zani. Thami Zani was a close associate of Steve Biko and organizer of both SASO and BPC. He served in the political office of the PAC in Maseru, Lesotho.
Cde Boniswa Ncukana was detained by the security branch of the South African Police in East London in 1980 for working in the PAC underground and setting up labour unions as fronts for the banned PAC. She was tortured severely and handed to the Transkei police who detained her further on a ninety days emergency law. Her parents were well known farmers in Centane village. On her release she left the country for further training in clandestine work and armed struggle.
Ncukana’s leadership skills included working with rural folks and encouraging women to change from docility to open confrontation and challenge of oppressive tendencies.
She broke the reactionary traditions of keeping women down but she shone the light on progressive traditions that pushed the advancement of African women.
She mobilized women workers and encouraged them to participate in the shop stewards council to negotiate and bargain on their own issues with the factory owners.
She argued for “Adam Kok” to have all the needs of women guerrillas in the APLA camps. “Adam Kok” is the name given to Mzana (the women’s quarters) in the military academy of Apla.
Boniswa Ncukana believed that leaders must be on the ground and do what they expect their charges to do. She died like a soldier in the battlefield.