Exiled person, MK Commissar, Robben Island prisoner, member of the African National Congress and South African Communist Party and South African National Defence Force

Ntela Richard Sikhosana was born in Escourt, Natal (now kwaZulu-Natal), on 23 August 1964. He matriculated at Wembezi High (Estcourt) in 1983. During December 1983, as a young activist, he was forced into exile in Mozambique, where he joined the African National Congress (ANC) and uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK). Here he was arrested and imprisoned for six months. An intervention by Jacob Zuma and Joe Slovo secured his release. Sikhosana proceeded to Zambia and then to Angola where he received military training and appointed as a Commissar.

He subsequently went to Cuba, where he received training in military intelligence and international politics.

When he returned to South Africa he joined the underground ranks of MK in the Natal Midlands Region. In 1987 he was arrested for the Empangeni Operation and sentenced to Robben Island for 12 years in 1989. Due to the special amnesty, Sikhosana was released in 1991. Upon his release, he was promoted to the rank of Commander of MK for the Natal Midlands Region until 1994.

At the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings it was claimed that on 22 February 1992, Mnandi Dladla, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) deputy-secretary in Wembezi, Estcourt, was shot near his home by an unidentified gunman armed with an AK-47, who fired at him from the vehicle of ANC leader Teaspoon Mkhize. Witnesses stated that Mkhize and his son, Jan Mkhize, were in the vehicle and confronted Dladla. Family members implicated, Sikhosana, in the murder, although none of the eye-witnesses did.

Sikhosana was the Natal Midlands regional commander of MK. He testified that he was involved in the training of SDUs in the Midlands area from November 1992 to April 1994. He applied for and was granted amnesty for these acts.

The TRC granted Sikhosana amnesty in respect of providing military training to Self Defence Units (SDU) members; and for the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, during November 1993 to 27 April 1994 at or near Estcourt.

He was promoted to the rank of Major in the newly established South African National Defence Force (SANDF), and was the head of the Integration and Demobilisation process. As a Major, he was responsible for the military intelligence office at Group 9 in Pietermaritzburg where he acquitted himself with great distinction under severe pressure.

Major Sikhosana was an outstanding intellectual and soldier. While others sought high office in government, he chose to remain a soldier. One of his greatest dilemmas was that as a member of the SANDF he could not openly be an activist of the South African Communist Party (SACP), an organisation which shaped his character and intellect.

Ntela Richard Sikhosana died on 23 August 1998.


South African Communist Party. (n.d.)Tribute to Comrade Ntela Sikhosana Available at http://www.sacp.org.za/main.php?ID=2546 online. Accessed on 17 July 2015. |TRC. (n.d.). KwaZulu/Natal: Violence and the killing of IFP leaders from Stanford University website. Available at http://web.stanford.edu/class/history48q/Documents/EMBARGO/2chap7.htm  online. Accessed on 17 July 2015. |Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Committee on Amnesty. (2000). Proclamation Under Section 20 of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, 1995 (Act No. 34 Of 1995) , 30 June. Available at   http://www.polity.org.za/polity/govdocs/proclamations/2000/proc035.html online. Accessed on 17 July 2015.

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