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The ‘Lion of Azania’ is gone

On 23 October 1990 — the day before this magazine went to the printers — Zephania Lekoane Mothopeng, president of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), passed away after a long illness. He was 77 years old.

“Uncle Zeph” was born in Vrede in the Orange Free State in 1913. After completing his B.A., he taught at Orlando High School, Soweto, for 17 years.

In 1959, Zeph left the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League and joined the PAC. He was soon elected onto the organisation’s National Executive Committee. In 1960 he was arrested together with Robert Sobukwe and others and was sentenced to two years imprisonment.

Not long after he was released, he was sent to jail again for “furthering the aims of a banned organisation”. After his release he was banished to the Qwa-Qwa “homeland”. He went back to Soweto after his banning order expired.

In 1977, he was arrested for furthering the aims of the PAC. He was sentenced to an effective 15 years imprisonment in 1979. He was elected president of the PAC while still in prison. In 1988 he was released on “humanitarian grounds” after serving nine years. He was seriously ill with cancer of the throat and lung.

In spite of this, he immediately threw himself headlong into the struggle. “I’m just as determined to fight for the liberation, of Azania today as I was the day I joined the liberation struggle as a young man,” he said.

Mothopeng dies at a time when South Africa is going through a difficult period. His death is a great loss to the South African liberation movement. While the PAC may have many other leaders, it will certainly be hard to replace him. ROBALA KA KGOTSO “Uncle Zeph”!


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