“An extremely warm place. On the basis of information collected there, I would develop my reports to Lusaka. Number 43 was like an engine room.”
– John Nkadimeng
“Given that Liliesleaf was a national headquarters of the ANC, one of highly strategic and national importance, it cannot easily be paralleled. On the other hand, Number 43 was a haven mainly for people operating on the eastern front, like similar houses in Botswana and Zambia. It was at the centre of the ANC’s military operations. From an operational viewpoint, however, it may be a complex exercise to try and compare the two properties.”
– Siphiwe Gebhuza Nyanda
“The two could not be compared. Number 43 was a place where all cadres operating from Swaziland met and were warmly welcomed, in spite of the risk the Masilela family was exposing itself to. With the passage of time, it ceased to be a secret that the family was ANC, since their loyalty was not hidden.
“UMagogo was a living example of the expression ‘Wathint’umfazi wathint’imbokodo’ (You strike a woman you strike a rock). She played a critical role in influencing and moulding the political views of the family and some of the cadres. Despite the frequency of the raids, people never realised that the house was a nerve centre for all the work we did in Swaziland.
“While Liliesleaf was the ANC HQ in the country, Number 43 was a base outside South Africa. It was a home away from home for most South African exiles, both underground and above ground. The same cannot be said of Liliesleaf. Number 43 was not clandestine; it remained above ground even in the most dangerous of times. Despite this making it a huge security risk, the house continued to be the cornerstone for our work. There is ample evidence that many people were arrested as a result of the surveillance of Number 43. Ironically, however, this saved the house from attacks.
“From both political and strategic viewpoints, it would not have served the South African security to attack. Instead, both the Swazi and South African forces resorted to harassing the family members, with the aim of intimidating and weakening them. Of course, this tactic did not work. Instead, the reverse was achieved.”
– Jabu Shoke
“We spent many hours hanging out at Number 43 with both comrades and friends. For some of us, it was not only a place where we held our strategic meetings and picked up information, it was also home. It was where we had our meals and had access to television. The walk up to Pendray Park, close to Number 43, was always pleasant and remains memorable to this day.
“Not all occasions at Number 43 were uneventful. In fact, life in the house was often punctuated with excitement, tension and sometimes panic. The first alarm I got after arriving in Swaziland was when uGrace burst through my door to report the death of uMaphumulo. We swiftly vacated our safe house and congregated at Number 43. As we were sitting there, analysing the situation and the events that had led to Maphumulo’s death, uTodd strode in to report the further killings of uPantsu Smith, uSipho Dlamini and uBusi Majola, in Mbabane. This news left us badly shaken.”
– Welile Satane Nhlapo
“I was quite safe from the security forces. Since I had just returned, no one knew me. No one suspected me of being even remotely related to the ANC. This allowed me free movement in and out of Number 43, which turned out to be the ideal meeting point. It became home for me, cemented by the fact that I had studied with uTodd. That academic relationship further reinforced my neutrality. At this time, uGrace finally joined our unit from Mozambique.”
– Xolani Humphrey Mkhwanazi
“I have no doubt that Number 43 could qualify to be a national monument. However, I am not sure how you could do it, given that it is situated outside of South Africa’s borders. I am trying to compare it with many other houses I know, but none immediately comes close to Number 43. It actually has no comparison! Monare’s house was short-lived; Msezana’s, Stokes’s, Rwai Rwai’s and the Twala residences do not bear the same characteristics… Clearly Number 43, in its own right, also produced revolutionaries and participated in developing capacity.
“However, my unit deliberately avoided using Number 43 purely to preserve one of the golden rules of a guerrilla movement, namely that of ‘preventing the mixing of different underground units’. But I personally used Number 43 extensively. When I got hungry in the course of doing my work, I always knew that uMagogo would be there to give me food. If I was lucky, which was very often, a beer would also be available!
“It was a critical source of information and networking with other operatives. It was also good for healing. Underground work is very lonely and depressing sometimes. But one never felt alone kwaMagogo.”
– Philipos Nwedamutswu