Makhosi “Tholi” Nyoka (1957 - 1988)
The Order of Mendi for Bravery in
Profile of Makhosi “Tholi” Nyoka
Makhosi “Tholi” Nyoka was born on 3 April 1957 and attended the Umzuvele Secondary School in KwaMashu. She was an active member of the Congress of South African Students, the KwaMashu Youth Organisation and the United Democratic Front and worked closely with youth leaders. She left South Africa on 18 May 1982 because of police harassment. Her “crossing the border”, as going into exile was known, was facilitated by Chief Kwenza Mlaba and Phindi Duma, who was considered her African National Congress Mama. She was to stay at Moses Mabhida’s house in Swaziland. They were a group of seven when they left, undergoing military training in Angola and then the Soviet Union. She was a very experienced, courageous and strong freedom fighter.
Most notably, she also loved to sing. Some of her revolutionary songs were recorded and sent to the International Youth Year Congress in Geneva, Switzerland. Nyoka also assisted in constructing parts of the Constitution of the Natal Organisation of Women.
Nyoka was a member of the Natal Machinery after her military training in Caxito, Angola, in 1983. After her training, she was deployed in Swaziland and was responsible for the infiltration of cadres and sometimes assisting the political machinery through the Swaziland border into what is today KwaZulu-Natal. Nyoka, whose combat name was "Tholi", was a very diligent and conscientious soldier who even under illness never stopped to do her work of ensuring that cadres had a safe passage home.
Nyoko was killed in what was dubbed the Piet Retief Massacre in June 1988. She was part of a unit of five that was intercepted on their way to South Africa as part of the Natal Machinery’s Military Intelligence Unit.