Abel Ramarope (1961-2005): from PAC to anarchism # 2

South Africans we said adieu to in 2005

Independent Online, 3 January 2006, online here


Abel Ramarope

1961 – 2005

This former member of the PAC and political activist-turned-anarchist was arrested during the struggle against apartheid and had been a prisoner since then. As an inmate, he formed a clandestine reading and study group on anarchism. He constantly fought corruption in the prison system, which he said was rife. He died in a Pretoria prison while doing time for robbery.

Nokuthula Mashabane

1964 – 2005

This social worker dedicated her life to helping rehabilitate prisoners and to changing their lives after they were set free. Because of her popularity with inmates at the Boksburg prison where she worked, a special request by inmates to have her funeral service held at the prison was granted.

Bongani Lubisi

1978 – 2005

This young activist and founder of the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee spent most of his time campaigning for efficient delivery of municipal services in the greater Soweto area. He even spent some time in jail for confronting some of the local councillors and for his protests outside Joburg mayor Amos Masondo’s house. He died in hospital after a short illness.

Dalene Matthee

1938 – 2005

She was an author of children’s books, short stories and a series of ”forest novels” set mainly in the Knysna forest and dealing with the woodcutters and the elephants of the area. These included Fiela se Kind (Fiela’s Child) and Kringe in ‘n Bos (Circles in a Forest), both of which were filmed. Matthee wrote mainly in Afrikaans. She won several literary awards in a career spanning several decades. Many of her titles were translated into 14 other languages including German, French and Italian. Matthee died in Mossel Bay in February following heart failure.

The Rev Allan Hendrikse

1938 – 2005

At the height of apartheid under the presidency of PW Botha, Hendrikse served in the tri-cameral parliament and was appointed chairperson of the “coloured” ministers’ council. No subservient supporter of the system, Hendrikse in January 1987, with 150 of his supporters, publicly defied the law by swimming at a “whites only” beach in Port Elizabeth. A member of the United Congregational Church, he was known for his controversial speeches, one including the claim that “mosques and churches were used by Marxists”.

Queen Makobo Constance Modjadji VI

1978 – 2005

Modjadji VI was the sixth and youngest rain queen of the Balobedu tribe, dying at the age of just 27. Her reign was also the shortest, lasting a mere two years. The cause of death was given as meningitis, but allegations of poisoning swirled around her passing, fuelled by controversy ignited by the traditionally unmarried queen’s relationship with a young commoner. The royal council had refused to acknowledge the couple’s two children.

Makgato Lewanika Mandela

1950 – 2005

He was the eldest and last surviving son of former president Nelson Mandela and his first wife Evelyn Mase. An attorney by profession, Makgatho served as Diners Club South Africa’s company secretary before moving on to Standard Bank. He died aged 54 at Johannesburg’s Linksfield Park Clinic in January. His father announced that he had died from an Aids-related illness, and that the virus was something that people should talk openly about.

Solomon “Stix” Morewa

1944 – 2005

The former South African Football Association (Safa) president died in September after a long struggle with diabetes. He was 61. He played a vital role in getting Safa readmitted to the global fold after its isolation during apartheid. He was also at the helm when Bafana Bafana won the Confederation of Africa Cup in 1996, and was first to dream ”the impossible dream” that SA could stage the World Cup. The 2010 tournament could rightly be proclaimed a legacy to him.

Brett Kebble

1964 – 2005

This controversial mining magnate and flamboyant art patron was shot dead in mysterious circumstances while on his way to dinner in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg in September. Recently deposed from the boards of Western Areas and Randgold & Exploration, Kebble had allegedly failed to file tax returns since 1993, and died owing around R100-million to the SA Revenue Service. His enthusiastic support for the ANC Youth League and its ”business ventures”, among others, raised many eyebrows.

Raymond Mhlaba

1920 – 2005

Mhlaba was an anti-apartheid activist who spent 25 years of his life in prison -first on Robben Island and then Pollsmoor – after being sentenced, along with Nelson Mandela in the Rivonia Trial. He was an active member of the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP) all his adult life. His kindly manner brought him the nickname ”Oom Ray”. In 2004 Mhlaba was diagnosed with advanced liver cancer. He died in hospital in February and is survived by his wife, three sons and five daughters.

Arthur Maimane

1932 – 2005

An accomplished journalist and author, Maimane served on Drum magazine during its early days. He was later a foreign correspondent for Reuters, working in Ghana, Tanzania (deported) and London for many years. He returned from exile with the release of Nelson Mandela, eventually becoming managing editor of The Star, but found it difficult to resume old friendships with those who had remained behind. He wrote a superb Johannesburg novel, Hate No More, but his autobiography remained unpublished. Maimane was 72 when he died in London.

Deon Van der Walt

1958 – 2005

One of the world’s leading lyric tenor singers, who performed in the world’s most famous opera houses, Van der Walt was killed on his family’s wine estate in northern Paarl, aged 47. He was shot twice in the chest following an apparent dispute with his father over the running of the estate. Initially studying at Stellenbosch, he gained numerous international scholarships and awards. An accomplished stylist and technically near-perfect, Van der Walt was also a recitalist of note. Much of his repertory has been recorded.

Siyabonga Gabriel Ndabandaba

1978 – 2005

South Africa’s first black aerobatics pilot, Ndabandaba was among the first black pilots trained by the SA Air Force in 2000. In September, he died with his friend Johnny Hattingh in a plane crash while the two were performing stunts at an airshow in Vereeniging. At the time of his death, Ndabandaba had been working as a pilot for South African Airways, for which he flew the carrier’s newest Airbus A340 on international routes.

Gideon Nieuwoudt

1951 – 2005

Notorious security police colonel Gideon Nieuwoudt was refused amnesty for apartheid crimes. He died in August, at 54, from cancer. Nieuwoudt was facing a 20-year jail term after being convicted of the 1996 car bombing – in a police vehicle – of four colleagues who had threatened to expose the fraudulent activities of himself and other officers. He had earlier been involved in the brutal interrogation, leading to death, of Black Consciousness activist Steve Biko. In 2004 Nieuwoudt was arrested for the 1985 murder of the “Pebco Three”.

Janita Claasen

1947 – 2005

This much-loved Afrikaans singer succumbed at the Sun Gardens Hospice in Pretoria after a 10-year battle with cancer. Her first album was released in 1981 and for 20 years she had an illustrious career. She received several ATKV awards and was also nominated for Artes and Sarie Awards. Her last CD, Wilde Aalwyn, was made in 2000 but the cancer drastically affected her lung capacity, resulting in her having to use an oxygen mask during the last year of her life. She is survived by her husband, two children and two grandchildren.

Barney Cohen

1952 – 2005

A seasoned and hardworking journalist, Cohen died in Johannesburg in January while undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. In the early ’90s he was executive editor of Drum and True Love magazines, having worked his way up from a reporter’s post. In 1991 Cohen left the magazine environment to “one of the first black empowerment companies in this country”. The television production house introduced such programmes as Woza Weekend.

Morrie Jacobson

1927 – 2005

Soccer’s “Iron Duke” of the ’50s died

on Christmas Day after years of failing health. He was the first player to be transferred for a fee in South Africa. Born in Lithuania, Jacobson came to SA with his parents as a child. He started playing for the Balfour Park Junior team and later joined the Johannesburg Rangers, an equivalent of Kaizer Chiefs in the popularity stakes. He represented South Africa 17 times in the unbeaten team that played five Tests in Australia in the ’50s. He retired at 40 but was a keen sportsman until well into his 70s, focusing mainly on tennis.

Sophie Thoko Mgcina

1938 – 2005

Just days after receiving a lifetime achievement award last month from the Department of Arts and Culture, Mgcina died of a heart attack, aged 68. She was an actress and a musician of note during her early years and commanded high respect from her peers. Ma Sophie, or Sunshine as she was fondly called, first tasted international fame in 1960 when she played Petal in the London run of the jazz opera King Kong. In 1981 she was nominated for the Lawrence Olivier award for best supporting actress. Called by contemporaries ”a helluva outie and a kleva”, Mgcina will always be remembered for her love of jazz, which she always connected with her African cultural experience.


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