When the waves of mass unrest swept through South Africa in the mid-1980s, the ANC interpreted the situation as presenting an opportunity to relaunch the armed struggle. It opted to root MK, its armed wing, firmly among the masses and to build towards an armed uprising.
Marcel Andrews, at the age of fourteen was one of the youth who was recruited as an active member of the African National Congress. Other recruits were Vincent James, Greta Apelgren, Keith Joseph, Myrtle Beaunoir, Kevin Curtis, Clifford Collings, Alan Pearce, Gordon Webster, Mathew Lecordier, and others.
Marcel Andrews’ personality is characterised by the need for self-expression, creativity, and a sense of purpose. He has a natural curiosity about many things and is more than willing to use his far-reaching imagination to feed this curiosity. Friends or colleagues find this unpredictable individual to be warm and affectionate, though sometimes solitary, relentless in his pursuit of knowledge, and deeply inquisitive. He embodies many professional strengths, including critical thinking, social consciousness, and assertiveness.
He became involved in the Congress of South African Students, at the beginning of 1984. At that time COSAS was an affiliate of the United Democratic Front.
This is when they went around the Wentworth area trying to politicise students to join the Congress of South African Students.
He was an active member of the Congress of South African Students, and also an active supporter of the(UCC) United Committee of Concern and the(UDF) United Democratic Front and as a result they often held meetings at the Allan Taylor residence.
On 8 April 1986 he was involved in the grenade attack on school principal Leaf’s house. After going into hiding, first at a tomato farm in Illovo for more than three months, then Ennerdale in Johannesburg, where he was arrested in a pre-dawn raid for his participation in this incident.
Prior to the grenade attack, he received theoretical training in the use of hand grenades by Vincent James.
Two hand grenades were used. Andrews carried one and Vincent James carried the other. They approached the home of Mr. Leaf, and from the back they threw the hand grenades to the front of the house. There were no injuries and minimal damage to the property was incurred. They understood that Mr Leaf was a legitimate target.
This was to show the Labour Party that their participation in the tricameral system was unacceptable to the people.
He spent three months in solitary confinement at Brighton Beach Police Station. It must be remembered that during his imprisonment he was only 16, and for juveniles, solitary confinement is especially dangerous. Because their brains are still developing, they are highly susceptible to the prolonged psychological stress that comes from being isolated in prison. As a result; like most of the cadres who experienced solitary confinement, he suffered from severe depression..
The impact of a mother on a son and the man he grows into cannot be underestimated. It’s the primary connection in the family relationship system, but it is also a genetic and physical bond and Marcel Andrews cannot help but become emotional, when he recalls the sacrifices that his mother made for him while he was on the run.
By: Lorraine Richards