Jafta Kgalabi Masemola - “The Tiger of Azania”
Jafta Kgalabi Masemola – “The Tiger of Azania”

On this day 17th April, 1990, exactly 24 years ago, the PAC of Azania was robbed of one of its greatest leaders, Jafta Kgalabi Masemola – ‘The Tiger of Azania’, who died in a mysterious car crash or accident six months after spending over 26 years on Robben Island and other apartheid prisons. It will be remembered that Jafta Masemola, popularly known as ‘Bro Jeff’, and others including Judge Dikgang Moseneke were arrested on the night of the 21st March 1963 in Atteridgeville, some in Lady Selborne, Mamelodi, Hebron High School where Kilnerton Training Institution had been moved to. They were all underground operatives of the banned Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) at the time of Poqo the forerunner of the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA). Prior to his arrest, he had been teaching at Atteridgeville (in a temporary capacity) then to Rama village (in a permanent capacity) and subsequently Banareng Primary School, at Atteridgeville, where Isaac Rammopo Makhudu was Principal.

He was charged with 15 others and sentenced to life imprisonment by Mr. Justice Cilliers sitting with two assessors in the Pretoria Supreme Court on July 2, 1963 for conspiracy to commit acts of sabotage and overthrowing the government by violent means. The other PAC-Poqo activists who were sentenced to life imprisonment and incarcerated on Robben Island with Jafta Masemola included John Nkosi (still alive), Ike Mthimunye (still alive), Philemon Tefu (no more), Samuel ‘Chips’ Chibane (no more), Dimake ‘Pro’ Malepe (no more). Jafta Masemola spent 23 years on Robben Island and the rest in the Sun City Prison from where he was released on October 10, 1989. The very day he was released he was flown to Cape Town to meet Nelson Mandela at Victor Verster Prison. After his meeting with Mandela, he was flown back to Johannesburg where he joined Walter Sisulu, Mkwayi, Kathrada, Motsoaledi and Mlangeni who were also released at that time.

On arrival at his home on 26 Makgatho street, Atteridgeville, Jafta arrived to a jubilant welcome from neighbours, friends, family members, former students and PAC members including Zephania Mothopeng, then President of the PAC. Jafta did not waste time. He immediately plunged into intense political activities travelling the length and breath of the country reviving and establishing PAC structures. In Atteridgeville, the people organised a home-coming celebration which attracted a huge crowd that filled the super stadium. This event unsettled the apartheid authorities who intervened and sent the police to disperse the crowd. Jafta had to be whisked out of the stadium before he could address the people that had come to welcome him. This was the beginning of strict surveillance on his life and activities. It is evident that his movements were closely watched and followed because the day he died he was not accompanied by anybody.

Jafta was a tireless and great organizer; a powerful speaker; disciplined, incorruptible, committed, fearless, selfless, straightforward and uncompromising; that is why the apartheid authorities feared and hated him because he was not the type to do business with. He was not amenable for their liking. He was like Sobukwe and Mothopeng. And like these leaders, he died at the time when PAC needed a leader of his caliber, stature and credentials. As we remember Jafta on this day, let us stop looking for a leader; let us build and develop leaders of tomorrow who will sustain this party into the future. The PAC will finally not survive if it continues to be as divided and fragmented as it is currently. The PAC must unite to become effective and thus restore its image and the dignity of the Great Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe, Zephania Lekoane Mothopeng -‘The Lion of Azania’and Jafta Kgalabi Masemola – ‘The Tiger of Azania’ and of all other PAC stalwarts and struggle heroes who served, suffered and sacrificed for national liberation, self-determination and social emancipation of the indigenous African people of this country and the entire African continent.

Izwe Lethu!

By Molefe Ike Mafole
The writer is a member of the Azania People’s Liberation Army (APLA) Military Veterans Association and a member of the PAC of Azania. He can be contacted on 072 630 2206.


  1. The death of Jeff Masemola is conveniently described as a “car accident” by the governing ANC and their partners in crime, the erstwhile ruling National Party to conceal the fact that it was an assassination and the role the ANC and NP played in the assassination of Masemola. Why do I say Masemola’s murder was an assassination? It bears all the hallmarks of an assassination in that there was a motive to kill him and those who planned and executed the assassination had the power and the means to kill him and to conceal their dirty tracks. If we consider for a moment the irrational and inexplicable idea that Masemola’s death was a car accident. Who is the driver of the truck that collided with Masemola’s car? What was the truck’s registration numbers? Who are the police officers who attended that “accident” and from which police station? Where is the case number? Why did the ambulance take long to arrive at the scene of the “accident” and are the identities of the paramedics who attended the “accident” known? Bra Ike writes that after his release Masemola was flown to meet Nelson Mandela at Victor Verster Prison. I am not privy to the discussion between Masemola and Mandela that took place at Victor Verster Prison. However, I can venture to say they disagreed on every thing because Masemola was aware that Mandela had been holding secret talks with Apartheid leaders and their imperialist backers. Against this backdrop, Masemola was a threat to the sell out deal between Mandela and these dubious characters. It should be borne in mind that Mandela found Masemola on Robben Island in 1964 and left him there in 1981. Masemola knew a lot about Mandela. These factors formed the basis for the motive to assassinate Masemola. In my previous articles in this web I cited the book MI6: Fifty Years of Special Operations by Stephen Dorril which reveals that Mandela was an MI6 agent. Now MI6 specialises in assassination that are disguised as car accidents the way they killed Princess Diana. And MI6 has a very big office in South Africa long before Masemola was released from prison and it is still there as I am writing this comment. We in the PAC refuse to accept the flimsy categorisation of Masemola’s assassination as a “car accident”. It is an assassination. The corporate media is complicit in covering up the assassination of Masemola. The Gods of Africa are beginning to avenge for Masemola.

  2. Mayihlome! We the descendants of true Pan African forefathers shall avenge the injustices of the modern day oppressor, the sellouts who continue to silence the voices of our leaders who are now speaking from their graves. Their voices are hidden from us…where are their recorded tapes, audio and visuals…where are their articles? Where are the journalists who covered their political activities? It’s such traces that hint that the modern day oppressors are reluctant to tell the truth! Mayihlome Poqo!

  3. While we are still grappling with the loss of Pan Africanists such as Japhta Masemola, the US with the collusion and cinnivance of some African quislings is penetrating the African continent and establishing Africom military bases all over Africa. The purpose is to establish its presence for a long time or permanently on the continent. To verify these facts please visit

  4. Japhta Masemola was very strict when it came to matters of national importance. To serve the people, to play a role as an individual in getting this task accomplished, was more important and required a full effort on your part than anything else. This is the code he lived by and he expected anyone who claimed to a patriot of the African people to abide by it. Nothing less, nothing more.

    It is well known by the ex political prisoners on Robben Island maximum prison that Masemola had the temerity to call the bluff of the likes of the Rivonia Trailists,who always wanted to have the last word on matters affecting the prisoner community and he held direct debates with Mandela on the weaknesses of appeasement and compromise with those who held us in captivity. He scoffed at the “toenadering” strategy of the enlightened Nats and stated that they posed a danger to the success of the African Revolution than their verkrampte opposites. When long term political prisoners were asked to foreswear violence as a condition for remission and possible early release by the PW Botha regime, the entire Robben Island community was divided into two groups – those who were ready to consider this proposal and the ones who rejected it outright. Masemola was the spokesperson of the latter group. The authorities removed him from Robben Island to Johannesburg Prison.

    Nelson Mandela saw to it that Bra Jeff be airlifted to Victor Vester Prison where he resided to talk him into accepting unconditional release the same day with the rest of the other Rivonia Trialists. Masemola would have told the PAC leadership what the discussions were all about. He made no secret deals.

    He once took a ten day hunger strike alone to achieve the release of interest earned on the collective account of all political prisoners into their control. The prison authorities kept the monies from bursaries and International Defense Fund, raised by solidarity groups for education and the upkeep of political prisoners and their dependents, in a Volkskas interest bearing account – and kept the accrued interest possibly for their own enjoyment. Masemola researched this aspect and then mobilized the prisoners community to take action. The Rivonia Trialists refused to endorse action. However, Masemola achieved victory in his campaign. The amount of approximately R100 000 was made available to the community of prisoners under the joint control of the authorities and the General Recreation Committee. The GRC used the money to improve facilities for all sport codes, the annual summer games, music equipment, video hire, and the grand finale cultural festival. at the time of my release on 27 April 1991, the account had about thirty thousand rand.

    The PAC would never have been what it turned out to be when Masemola was alive. Everybody had to work around the clock, and deliver. There would have been no room for deadwood, political bankruptcy, skulduggery and deliberate self-sabotage. Masemola’s death therefore has the hallmarks of a planned attack on the critical growth of Pan Africanist Congress of Azania at a crucial stage after the un-banning in 1990.

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