Former apartheid struggle icon, Moonsamy Kisten has died at the age of 82. He was one of the 18 ANC cadres were found guilty of sabotage and sent to jail in 1964 – the same year as Nelson Mandela.
Dries Liebenberg visited Kisten at his residence at theAryan Benevolent Home in Chatsworth where Moonsamy Kisten 2 years ago. Despite his gray hair, he cuts a trim figure when one of the staff members enters the room with the wheelchair-bound Kisten.
He was sentenced to 14 years in prison for sabotage in 1964. It was the same year that Nelson Mandela and the other Rivonia treason trialists were sent to Robben Island.
“Ja, we had vicious people governing this place – Afrikaner rule. The Indians one side, you know, the Coloureds one side, and the Africans one side. And they were ruling. The rulers were Afrikaners.”
Kisten speaks slowly, as if the words have to be fetched from a far-away place.
That’s how life carries on … well, unfortunately everybody must pass away
Sometimes his memory fails him. Recalling duty on the infamous lime quarry where Mandela’s eyes were damaged by the glare off the white stone, he says: “Well, it was a very rough time. Working in the quarry. Mandela and his five or six people were there together. They were frightened. The government was frightened.”
Kisten recalls Mandela’s fatherly way, and his habit of taking time to answer questions. “If you want to talk to him, he takes his time, you know.”
Kisten’s mind wanders to those early days of the revolution, recalling old debates. Tears well up in his watery eyes when he remembers Mandela’s unifying role in the past.
“Mandela is there and he should be there. He is a man that used to control every individual who belong to the ANC. He’s a man that didn’t want anybody to go out of the organisation. And it is still intact.”
Then Kisten’s mind wanders as he speaks about death that comes to us all.
“That’s how life carries on … well, unfortunately everybody must pass away. What nation are you?”
Excerpt source: SABC