uMKhonto We Sizwe members laid a wreath at the grave of Nomabhunga Mpetha, who was the wife of the late Struggle stalwart Oscar Mpetha (inset). Picture: Supplied
uMKhonto We Sizwe members laid a wreath at the grave of Nomabhunga Mpetha, who was the wife of the late Struggle stalwart Oscar Mpetha (inset). Picture: Supplied
Struggle stalwart Oscar Mpetha. Picture: Alan Taylor/Independent Media Archives
Struggle stalwart Oscar Mpetha. Picture: Alan Taylor/Independent Media Archives
Cape Town - A liberation and Heritage Route memory programme to recognise and celebrate the legacies of the late Struggle stalwarts Oscar and Nomabhunga Mpetha, was launched in Nyanga.

The two-year social memory programme is part of the National Heritage Council to celebrate the lives of unsung Struggle heroes where sites associated with the Mpethas were identified, aiming to preserve the role they played.

These sites include Mpetha’s house in Nyanga East, Rocklands Community Hall in Mitchells Plain, Pollsmoor Prison, The Food and Allied Workers Union offices and the Presbyterian church in Nyanga, the Assemblies of God church in Nyanga and the Methodist church.

National Heritage Council chief executive Sonwabile Mancotywa said the Mpethas were liberation Struggle stalwarts who have not been given the recognition they deserved.

“We also did the grave and house site visit because we wanted to show their state (bad) and to lobby relevant stakeholder partners in improving the state of other sites associated with them,” he said.

Mancotywa said job opportunities would be created as a result of the Liberation and Heritage Route.

“There can be restaurants and other eating areas; there can be restoration of historical sites, and other things associated with heritage and tourism.

“Above all, our people, particularly the youth of Nyanga, will acquire different skills, ensuring that they put food on their families’ tables, Mancotywa said.

Africa Hlapo, a friend who fought alongside him said Mpeta helped in organising the “forgotten” workers.

“It is a supreme irony that he has become forgotten as well during his resting days. Mpetha played a pivotal role in the establishment of the taxi industry which came as a result of the school and the bus boycott in 1980,” he said. Mpheta was the founder of the trade union movement during the 1940s and became famous for his groundbreaking efforts on behalf of the mainly black Food and Canning Workers’ Union. In 1940 he organised and led a movement calling for higher wages for road labourers.

He also made a name for himself as a strong voice against apartheid.

Mpetha’s wife, Nomabhunga, also distinguished herself in politics. She was a founder member of the Federation of South African Women in the 1950s. She was also an active member of the ANC Women’s League and a key activist in the protests against passes.

“The most important thing is for transgenerational values, selfless values of our former heroes instilled into the future generation,” Mancotywa said.

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Cape Argus