Historical Perspectives

JUNE 16 SOWETO UPRISING AS TOLD IN COURT

“You Mothopeng, acted to sow seeds of anarchy and revolution. The riots you engineered and predicted eventually took place in Soweto on June 16 and at Kagiso the next day.” These are the words of Judge Curlewis in the Supreme Court of South Africa in a secret court hearing on 1 July 1979. He was sentencing to imprisonment for the Soweto Uprising(June 16) the following accused Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) leaders and members: Zephania Mothopeng 30 years, Moffat Zungu 7 years, Michael Matsobane 15 years, Daniel Matsobane 12 years, Marks Shinners 12 years, John Ganya 11 years, Benny Ntoele 10 years, Johnson Nyathi 10 years, Themba Hlatswayo 8 years, Goodwill Thlale 8 years, Julius Landingwe 8 years, Sithembele Khala 7 years, Goodwill Moni 7 years, Zolile Ndindwa 7 years, Jerome Kodisang 5 years and Hamilton Keke 5 years.

As we mark the 36th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising, it is important that suppressed facts and truth about this inspiring history of political bravery and heroism by the youth of this country are revealed and recorded for posterity and for humanity in general.

In the Supreme Court of South Africa at Bethal, Judge Curlewis found for the apartheid regime’s prosecution in 1979, that the Pan Africanist Congress played a leading role in the Soweto Uprising which erupted on 16
June 1976. Evidence before Judge Curlewis showed that the PAC organised and fixed the date on the Soweto Uprising.

Several witness testified how PAC under the leadership of Zephania Mothopeng organised the Soweto Uprising. For instance, Adam, one of the witnesses testified before court that in one of the underground meetings of the PAC disguised as the Young African Religious Movement(YARM), Mike Motsobane introduced PAC leaders as from Soweto.

MANDELA APPEASES WHITES!!!

The Long Walk to Freedom is an invaluable source of information on the political history of South Africa and the ANC although it is fraught with ethnic and organizational biases. If Mandela is a leader of all people of South Africa, he should transcend these tendencies. For example, those unfamiliar with the South African life may end up thinking that Xhosas and Zulus are the major inhabitants of South Africa, as one reviewer recently did.

The African anthem which translates as God Bless Africa has both the Sesotho version (Morena Boloka Sechaba sa Afrika) and Nguni version but nowhere in the book does Mandela refer to this anthem in its Sesotho name. Mandela himself is an Nguni speaker. In fact, during the raising of South Africa’s new flag, only the Nguni version of this song was sung, followed by the settler colonialists’ anthem Die Stem.

Although the book is an invaluable source of information on some aspects of South African history, it has some historical inaccuracies. For example, Mandela writes that gold was discovered in 1886 on the Witwatersrand (p 55). In fact, South Africa has the earliest gold, iron and copper mines in the world going back to thousands of years.

Mandela claims that the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania is ‘anti-white’ (p 264) and criticizes the Black Consciousness Movement for excluding whites (p 422). Some of the criticism Mandela leveled at the PAC are ridiculous and border on the absurd. For instance he writes: “Their actions were motivated more by a desire to eclipse the ANC than to defeat the enemy” (p 206). Mandela also claims the views and behaviour of the PAC are immature. The philosophy of Black Consciousness according to Mandela is also immature and he also labels one of the greatest African leaders of African descent, Marcus “Mosiah” Garvey as an extremist. Garvey is at the same time described as an African hero.

The forerunner of APLA, POQO is described as “irresponsible” and labeled “terrorists” (p 295). But nowhere does Mandela label the white supremacist terror group Afrikaner Weestandbeweging (AWB). Instead he refers to them as a “militant right-wing” group (p 530).

Mandela writes that he was saddened by the bombing to death in Mozambique of Ruth First, Joe Slovo’s widow but never mentioned anything about Onkgopotse Ramothibi Tiro let alone his tragic bombing by white South African agents in 1974 in Botswana. Tiro, a founding member of the Black Consciousness Movement, was probably the first South African to be parcel bombed and the first martyr of the Black Consciousness Movement. There is also no mention of Bantu Biko or the cruel way in which his life was ended in a South African jail. Biko was one of the founding members of the Black Consciousness Movement.

SHORT PROFILE OF JAFTA KGALABI “THE TIGER OF AZANIA” MASEMOLA

Jafta Kgalabi Masemola – “The Tiger of Azania” also popularly known as “Bra Jeff” by many others, was born at Bon Accord near Pretoria on the 12th December 1931. He lost both his parents at an early age and was raised by his sister like one of her own children. The family moved to Marabastad and then to Atteridgeville in 1942 where he enrolled at De Jong Primary School and completed standard six in 1947. He proceeded to Hofmeyr Secondary School where he obtained a Junior Certificate in 1950. Then he went to Kilnerton Training Institution (KTI) where he did his Higher Primary or Teacher’s Training Certificate.

His first teaching post was in Atteridgeville where he worked on a temporary basis until he got a permanent post at Mmakau Primary School (Rama) in Western Transvaal . In 1956 he returned to Atteridgeville to teach at Banareng Primary School where Mr. Rammopo Makhudu was principal. In 1958 he joined the Youth League of the African National Congress. He was impressed by the vigorous politics of the principal. In 1959 he joined the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania at its inception and thus became one of its founding leaders. His Africanist politics influenced the school children and some his colleagues. As a result some of his pupils became members of the PAC when they got to high schools and were later incarcerated with him on Robben Island in 1963.

After the banning of the PAC on April 8, 1960 under the Unlawful Organizations Act, Jafta Masemola continued with underground activities. He and other operatives formed underground structures that were planning an armed revolt in 1963; to this effect they gathered whatever weapons they could put their hands on for the planned uprising. The state security police uncovered these activities and Jafta Masemola and other underground activists were arrested during a swoop on PAC-Poqo suspects on the night of March 21st, 1963.

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