Former Apla commander Johnson Mlambo during an interview in Daveyton, Ekurhuleni. | Ziphozonke Lushaba
Former Apla commander Johnson Mlambo during an interview in Daveyton, Ekurhuleni. | Ziphozonke Lushaba

PAC mourns the death of its former army chief Johnson Mlambo due to Covid-19

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Jan 11, 2021

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Johannesburg - The PAC and Pan Africanists in the diaspora are mourning the death of Johnson Mlambo – the former commander-in-chief of the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (Apla) – who succumbed to Covid-19 on Saturday.

The PAC said on Sunday members of his family were being tested for Covid-19, and they appealed to visitors to their home in Daveyton to respect and observe the coronavirus regulations.

Funeral details would be released soon.

Mlambo – popularly known in PAC circles as “chairman” – was instrumental in intensifying military attacks on the apartheid government soon after his release from Robben Island in 1983.

Mlambo was arrested on March 31, 1963, along with seven others – Abel Chiloane, Simon Nkosi, Josiah Makofane, Nelson Nkumane, Michael Ngila Muendane, Lucas Mahlangu and Douglas Simelane.

Mlambo was accused No 1 and was charged with sabotage and plotting to overthrow the South African government. The charges followed a PAC programme in 1963 to liberate the country from colonial rule and install an African government, in what was known as the “Year of Destiny – 1963”.

He was sentenced to 20 years in jail. After his release on June 20, 1983, he spent only 10 days in the country before joining the PAC in exile – then under Nyati Pokela, who, like him, had left Robben Island and gone into to exile to head the PAC’s military wing.

Mlambo took over as Apla’s commander-in-chief following the death of Pokela in June 1985. The latter was buried at Heroes Acre in Zimbabwe.

Mlambo was responsible for arranging military training and support for Apla. He was also instrumental in the formation of the Azanian National Youth Unity (Azanyu) under then president, the late Carter Seleke, and secretary-general Cunningham Ngcukana, in 1985.

Azanyu encouraged young people to leave the country and join Apla. The Pan Africanist Student Organisation (Paso) was the brainchild of Mlambo. At its inaugural conference at Wilgespruit Fellowship Centre in Roodepoort in October 1989, Paso adopted the slogan “Paso by Day, Apla by Night”.

When then president FW de Klerk announced the unbanning of the PAC and the ANC in 1990, Mlambo was in Iraq, holding talks with Saddam Hussein to lobby for military support for Apla.

However, he returned to South Africa and engaged in the negotiated settlement at Codesa ahead of elections in April 1994.

Political Bureau

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