Thursday, 22 May 2008

Turning a murderer into a martyr?

May 21 2008 at 12:09PM

By Wendy Jasson da Costa

The daughter of a woman who was killed in a bomb blast set off by ANC activist Andrew Zondo in 1985 is packing her bags and emigrating to New Zealand.

Elaine Shearer, 24, is incensed that the eThekwini Municipality is deciding to rename Kingsway, the street in which her father still lives, Andrew Zondo Street.

She believes that the explosion that killed five people, including her mother, Anna, was motivated by crime and not politics.

"For me it was cold-blooded, and had nothing to do with politics. Now they want to turn a murderer into a martyr."

Shearer says she grew up without her mother because of crime, and does not want to become another murder statistic, forcing her 3-year-old daughter, Amy, to relive the experience. That is her reason for leaving South Africa.

Shearer, who was a toddler when her mother died, said her life would have been different if she had grown up with her mother, especially since her father had been in "permanent mourning" for the past 23 years.

She said all she wanted was to "spend one day with my mom" to find out who she was.

Instead, she has had to feed off her father's memories and meet her mother through a medium.

Anna Shearer and her best friend of almost 20 years, Lyn Lott, went to the Sanlam Shopping Centre in Amanzimtoti two days before Christmas in 1985.

They were just metres away from the bin where Zondo, an Umkhonto weSizwe member, had planted a limpet mine.

Shearer says her mother died instantly in the explosion, but Lott suffered multiple shrapnel wounds and suffered from severe pain to this day.

Five people were killed in the explosion, including three children, while about 40 others were wounded.

Zondo, who was 19 at the time, was sentenced to death by hanging.

"It hasn't affected the way I think about black people," said Shearer.

She still harbours a deep anger at the apartheid government for its policies that led to the bombing, and with the current government for wanting to honour Zondo and for being insensitive to people who live in the area.

"What's the point of renaming the street anyway, because no one will ever refer to it by the new name?" she said.

Zondo's father, Pastor Aiken Zondo, is also opposed to the use of his son's name, saying it would "open old wounds".


Durban-based sociologist Mary de Haas said the renaming proposal was "very divisive" and the worst possible move for reconciliation.

She said the late ANC leader Oliver Tambo held out an olive branch after the Zondo blast, saying the intention had not been to hurt or kill innocent people.

"They couldn't have done a better job at driving wedges between people," said De Haas.

She said Pietermaritzburg's and Johannesburg's approach to renaming had been sensitive, whereas Durban had failed.

"If they want to honour someone (Zondo), they can do it somewhere else," she said.

De Haas also questioned why "leading lights" of the struggle who were from the province, including Johnny Makhatini and Judson Khuzwayo, had been left off the list of people being honoured.

She also believed that there was no good reason for changing the name of Mangosuthu Highway in Umlazi to Griffiths Mxenge.

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