Struggle icon Ya Toivo dies

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Struggle icon Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo who was imprisoned alongside with former president Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 93.

Ya Toivo played a crucial role as a founder member of Swapo in the 1950s.

In 1957, Toivo was banished from South Africa to his birthplace, Ovamboland in Namibia.

This was after it was discovered that he was smuggling taped testimonies to the United Nations (UN) about the harsh experiences of Black mine workers.

Toivo was arrested and detained on several occasions.

In August 1966, SWAPO combatants were attacked by South African forces, which observers say marked the start of armed struggle, Toivo was arrested, along with 35 independent activists, and taken to Pretoria, where they were tortured and interrogated before being finally charged.

Sentenced to 20 years under South Africa’s anti-terrorism legislation, he served his sentence on Robben Island in the leadership section with Mandela and others.

In 1984, following a petition by Dirk Mudge of the Republican Party, an opposition group to Swapo, Toivo was released.
On release, he joined the rest of the Swapo leadership in exile.

He returned to South West Africa (about to become Namibia) in 1989 to help pave the way for independence (attained on 21 March 1990).

Toivo was arrested and detained on several occasion

He subsequently took part in the country’s first truly democratic general election. SWAPO obtained 57% of the vote and Nujoma, still president of the organisation, was elected President of the country.

Toivo was appointed as the Minister of Mines and Energy (1990 to 1999).

He later served as Minister of Labour from 1999 to 2002 and Minister of Prisons and Correctional Services from 2002 to 2004.
Funeral arrangements have not been disclosed.