Launch of 'Voices from the Underground' edited by Shirley Gunn & Shanil Haricharan on October 1

Join Gunn and Haricharan in conversation with Charles Nqakula at Love Books on Tuesday, October 1

25 September 2019 - 15:07

What was it like to be a freedom fighter in the 1980s? Eighteen members of the ANC's military underground tell their stories, describing their backgrounds, their roles in the armed struggle and their lives since the fall of apartheid.

In 1987, the apartheid minister of law and order boasted that the security forces had crushed Umkhonto we Sizwe in the Western Cape.

He could not have been more wrong.

The Ashley Kriel Detachment, named after one of their slain comrades, conducted over 30 operations between late 1987 and early 1990, playing a crucial role in the defeat of an unjust system.

In Voices from the Underground, 18 members of the AKD give accounts of their involvement in the armed struggle. The book traces their journeys into MK, via student activism, trade unions, religious organisations and UDF politics.

It details their training in Angola, Botswana, Tanzania, Cuba and SA, and their experiences of detention and interrogation.

Members recall the stresses of couriering arms and explosives across police roadblocks, hiding in safe houses and evading capture. They talk about the operations they executed, the measures they took to avoid civilian casualties, and their responses to security breaches and the deaths of comrades in the line of duty.

Above all, this is a book about people, showing the effects of apartheid on their lives, their reasons for joining the armed struggle, the challenges of surviving in the underground while raising children, and their experiences of returning to civilian life or, in some cases, integrating into the SA National Defence Force.

Voices from the Underground gives a human face to ordinary people who took up arms to fight a violent state for the freedom of all South Africans.


  • Date: Tuesday, October 1 (6pm for 6.30pm)
  • Venue: Love Books, Bamboo Lifestyle Centre, 53 Rustenburg Rd, Melville 
  • Guest speaker: Charles Nqakula
  • RSVP:

Article provided by Penguin Random House