Gladys Mazibuko.jpg

Gladys Mazibuko Road
Formerly Marriott Road


Gladys Mazibuko, trade unionist, community activist and member of the ANC’s military wing, Umkhonto weSizwe (MK), helped many comrades escape into exile, and despite being tortured by the security forced remained loyal to the liberation cause.

Mazibuko was born on 1 November 1937 in the Kwatasi area, on the South Coast, and cut her political teeth during the Defiance Campaign of the 1950s. She was at the forefront of the women’s beer hall protests, that involved chasing men out of municipal beer halls.

In June 1959 she married Jotham Mazibuko, and the couple settled in Kwa-Mashu. Mazibuko started working in factories in Durban and became involved in the trade union movement and her shop-floor activism led to her election as a shop steward. The militancy that ran through workers’ movements in the 1960s was to shape her life. The once humble rural girl developed into a determined political operator. She got involved in helping young people to leave the country to join MK. And her home soon became a staging post for would-be exiles.

Mazibuko, herself, joined the ANC underground structures, and time and again she would slip out of the country to visit MK camps. She quit the factory where she had been working to take up a job at an old age home in KwaMashu. In 1966 she was arrested for belonging to a banned organisation. Pregnant at the time, Mazibuko gave birth in prison. Her child did not live for long. During the “total onslaught” period of PW Botha’s rule, when security forces were deployed in the townships, Mazibuko was regularly intimidated and had to be hospitalised after being tortured. When she was eventually discharged from hospital, the government kicked her and her children out of their home.

It took the intervention of the late Victoria Mxenge and Bheki Cele (today, the National Police Commissioner), to get her house back. Mazibuko became isolated in her community, as many of her neighbours were reluctant to be seen with her, fearing they too might be arrested. After the unbanning of the ANC, Mazibuko was active in recruiting new members to the party. In 2000 she was appointed a proportional representative City councillor.

Apart from her political work, Mazibuko was a community activist and gave financial support to many families. She used to tell her children that she was living for the ANC. She and her husband had three children, Vumani Nkomoningi, Thobekile and Siyabonga. Her husband died in 2003 and she followed on 11 September 2006.