Thozamile Richard (Thozi) Gqweta was born in Peelton near King Williamstown 1952.The son of a railway worker.He obtained his matric at Mzomhle High School in 1973, after which he worked as salesman,a job that opened his eyes to the poverty and insecurity of black urban workers.He was asked by the Black Allied Worker's Union (BAWU)in 1978 to from an East London branch, he began to read about unions in the public library and to discuss them with Oscar Mpetha,who at the time was also trying to orgnize East London.In 1979 Gqweta broke with the black consciousness-oriented BAWU and formed SAAWU.
As a results while SAAWU was mushrooming between 1980 and 1985,Gqweta was harassed by both Ciskeian and South African security police with repeated detentions and intimidation.He was detained three times in 1980,repeated appearin in court before charges were withdrawn.In June 1981 he was detained for more than two months.In the interim ,an unexplained fire killed his mother and uncle,and on the day of their funerals,police shot dead Gqweta's fiancee.Brutally assaulted and tortured in detention,he was admitted in February 1982 to the psychiatric ward of a Johannesburg hospital.
In May 1982 he was detained again and charged with treason and terrorism.He made several court appearances and was released on bail in September,only to have all charges dropped in November. Gqweta was an African National Congress (ANC) loyalist and also joined the Communist Party after secretly meeting Moses Mabhida in Swaziland in 1983.He was on the United Democratic Front's border regional executive committee,and participated in the unity talks leading to the formation of the Congress of South African Trade unions,although tensions arose from the requirement that general resisted.He was brought to trial for the first in the Pietermarizburg treason trial of 1985-1986,Gqweta and 15 others were acquitted on all charges.Gqweta retired due to poor health.
• Mail & Guardian October 6 to 12 2006 p 15
• Gail M. Gerhart, Teresa Barnes, Antony Bugg-Levine, Thomas Karis, Nimrod Mkele .From Protest to Challenge 4-Political Profiles (1882-1990) http://www.jacana.co.za/component/virtuemart/?keyword=from+protest+to+ch... (last accessed 07 January 2019)
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