Barney Pityana File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Barney Pityana File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

44th anniversary of Black Consciousness stalwart Mapetla Mohapi's death

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Aug 5, 2020

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Johannesburg – Today marks 44 years since South African Students' Organisation (SASO) activist Mapetla Mohapi was killed in a police cell in Port Elizabeth while detained under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act.

He was arrested on June 16, 1976 during the Soweto Uprising and his incarceration under the act made him the first to be detained under that section.

He was suspected of being involved in transporting students much to the displeasure of the police.

Mohapi, who was born in Sterkspruit in the Eastern Cape, was only 28 when he was found murdered.

His first arrest came in October 1974 after SASO leaders celebrated Mozambique's independence.

He was released in April 1975 after spending 164 days without having been charged.

Paying tribute to him and others last year during the 50th anniversary of the birth of SASO, Struggle stalwart and former BC leader Barney Pityana said the struggles of the 1970s must be a part of the country’s memory bank.

“What is it about it that must be remembered, you may wonder?

“ I think that it is that the struggles of the 1970s marked a turning point in the nature and quality of our quest for liberation. It signified a new intensity of struggle, a resolve and a purpose that could not be vanquished.”

Pityana further said it was a struggle of the youth and students of our land as well as youth and children who went to war against the system; it was the youth and students who were the future of our country who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“For me, it was Mthuli kaShezi, a young graduate who deeply desired to make a difference in his mother’s life, who was instead murdered at Germiston Station by being pushed onto an oncoming train in December 1972.

“It was Mapetla Mohapi, a graduate social worker, husband and father of young two beautiful girls, whose life was extinguished in police custody at Kei Road; it was the women who were wrenched from their children in the prime of their lives to be subjected to humiliation and violence by security police.

“I could go on and tell about Onkgopotse Tiro, Tsietsi Mashinini, and many others whose names are not recognisable to ordinary South Africans today,” Pityana said.

He said their stories must be told saying their visionary hopes and aspirations lay the foundations for our new South Africa.

“We must never be shy to recall the pioneers of our Movement: Bantu Stephen Biko, Vuyelwa Mashalaba and among many."

The Star

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