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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Sequels to the Rioting in Sekhukhuneland

A description was given in last year's Survey of the rioting that occurred in Sekhukhuneland during May 1958 after large sections of the Ba-Pedi tribe had opposed the Bantu authorities system and after their acting chief, Moroamoche, and some of his leading councillors had been banished.

Immediately after the rioting, 210 Africans were arrested, while another 128 arrests were made later in the year. A mobile police force patrolled the Reserve until well on into 1959: it was then withdrawn; but the area is still in a state of unrest, and the majority of the people continue to be opposed to the Bantu authorities system. The Ba-Pedi tribal authority, which was disestablished after the commencement of the unrest, has not been re-constituted.

The man who was appointed by the Government to act as chief failed to gain the people's confidence, and was relieved of his appointment. During October 1958 Moroamoche and four councillors who had been deported were allowed to return on temporary permit.

Two of the Africans who were arrested died during the course of the trials. Of the rest, 37 appeared before the Supreme Court, Pretoria, on charges of murder. Thirteen of them were acquitted, three were found guilty of murder with extenuating circumstances and were given life sentences, and 21 were sentenced to death. The death sentences of 20 of these people were, however, set aside in the Appeal Court: one case, involving 16 Africans, was referred back to the trial court for further evidence. At the conclusion of the re-opened trial these 16 people were once more sentenced to death. Leave to appeal was again granted. This time, the Appeal Court set aside the convictions and sentences in two cases, but dismissed the remainder of the appeals.

Forty-four people were tried in the Supreme Court, Pretoria, on charges of public violence. Thirty-four of them were acquitted and the remaining ten were found guilty of public violence or common assault or arson. Their sentences ranged from six months' imprisonment suspended for two years to ten years' imprisonment.

Those who were charged with lesser offences such as violence, assault, undermining authority, holding unauthorized gatherings, entering the Reserve illegally, possessing dangerous weapons, etc. were tried in the magistrate's court in Lydenburg. By May 1959, 162 of them had been tried, about 104 being acquitted and about 58 convicted of various offences.'"' A further 64 men and women appeared before the court during July 1959, and all were acquitted, the magistrate being of the opinion that he could not accept the evidence of the Crown witnesses.

At the time of writing, a public violence trial involving 25 accused, three individual cases of assault and one of murder had still to be heard.

Although numbers of the accused were acquitted, some of the men had been in police custody for as long as 14 months before their cases were heard. The money raised was sufficient only to enable the women to be released on bail.


An account was given in last year's Survey(tl) of the prolonged resistance by the Mamathola tribe to the Government's plan to move them from the eroded Wolkeberg mountain slopes in the Letaba district of the Northern Transvaal to the farm Mctz, about thirty miles to the east, in the hot low-veld. The deposal of the chief, the Parliamentary debate on this matter, and the removal that finally took place in March 1958, were described last year. Only about 250 of some 400 families who had lived at Wolkeberg took part in this move; the rest dispersed to other parts of the country, and the chieftainess-apparent and her daughter went into hiding.

Residential, arable and grazing sites had been laid out at Metz, parts of the land were irrigated, and a school, post office and clinic had been built. Tents were made available on loan pending the erection of new huts.

(U> Totals calculated from information Riven hy the Minuter of Justice. Senate.

4 May 1959. Hansard 8 cols. 1812-3. (U) Pasc 140.

Forty-four families under Headman Moses Rakoma have settled down in their new homes and are cultivating their plots. But the rest of the tribe, numbering 202 families and led by Headman Solomon Letsoalo, continues to be bitterly resentful. They dislike the hotter climate at Metz; there has been a considerable amount of illness, and, it is stated, 41 deaths among them. They have completely lost heart, and pine for their old mountain home and their orange groves. They have refused to build proper huts or to cultivate the soil, have been living on the compensation money they received, and are likely to be destitute when this becomes exhausted. When the tents were recently taken away for a time (hey just left their possessions scattered over the veld.(ir°


During the past year the trials have continued of Africans who were arrested for inciting others to stay away from work as a protest at the time of the general election in April 1958. This "stay-at-home" demonstration was described in last year's Survey. m

Twenty further Africans were found guilty, and were sentenced to fines or to prison sentences of up to twelve months. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Pretoria, the convictions and sentences of two of them were set aside, the sentences of five were reduced, and those of thirteen others were all suspended.


The terms of Proclamation No. 52 of 1958 were set out in last year's Survey.0"' Briefly, if Part I of this Proclamation is applied to any African area, no one who is not a resident may enter without a permit from the Bantu Affairs Commissioner. It becomes an olTcnce to fail to report the unlawful presence of any African, or to make a verbal or written statement likely to interfere with the authority of the State or a chief, or to threaten anyone on account of his loyalty to the State or any of its officials or any chief or headman.

][ Part II of the Proclamation is applied to any area, it becomes an offence to leave the area without a permit from the Bantu AITairs Commissioner.

An amending Proclamation, No. 138 of 1959, was issued during the year under review. This states that the original measure shall not be applied to any area for a period in excess of six months, but that the Minister may extend its application for a further six months.

Government Notice No. 1055 of 10 July 1959 re-applied Part 1 of the 1958 proclamation to the Reserves in the Marico (Zeerust) area, to those in Sekhukhuneland, and to the Wolkeberg area where the Mamathola tribe originally lived, and made it applicable also to two farms in the Ncbo area (adjoining Sekhukhuneland) and to the Reserves in the Peddie area of the Eastern Cape.

(i.<> Hum/ Daily Mail report. 28 August 1959. and Star, 1 October 1959. <">) Page 69.


On <S January 1959, more than 200 African mineworkcrs were charged with public violence following a riot in the Virginia Gold Mine compound. It is reported that,0"' armed with sticks and steel pipes, they cornered the compound manager and his staff in his office and pelted them with stones, smashed furniture and windows, damaged cars belonging to mine officials, and ruined stocks of food. Damage estimated at more than £2,000 was done. The police tried for some hours to restore order, finally succeeding after two baton charges had been made. Eighteen Africans were injured during the riot.


A disturbance occurred in the African township of Kroon-stad during April 1959. A crowd of Africans turned on the municipal officials and then the police, pelting them with stones and also using firearms. The police were forced to return (he fire, wounding two men/"'


In 1956 the Government banished Jeremiah Mabie, who was chief of the Ba-Thlako tribe living at Mabicskraal, to the north of Rustenburg in the Transvaal. A new acting chief named Mokgatle

(!') Paces "1 and 6.

(IB) Knnil Dally Mail. 9 January, and Shir. 10 January 1959.

(IS) Information given by Minister of Justice. Assembly. 1 May 1959, Hansard 13 col. 5115.

Mabie, appointed by the Government, has never succeeded in gaining the allegiance of all the tribesmen.

During September 1959 Mokgatle went to the installation of the new chief of the Ba-Phokeng tribe near Rustenburg. It is reported<50) that about 60 other members of his tribe also went, independently of him, and claimed to represent the Ba-Thlako.

Incensed, Mokgatle summoned Majapane Malopc, one of the leaders of the dissidents, to appear before the Kgolla on a charge of insubordination. Majapane came, but a group of about twenty young men and women broke up the meeting and took him away.

A fine of one beast was imposed on him for "contempt of court," and a body of tribal policemen was sent to collect the fine. They were attacked with sticks and stones, at least eleven people being injured in the fray, some of them seriously. The South African Police were called and made 62 arrests.

Three days later, Mokgatle again sent his men to collect the fine. They killed a beast with a shotgun. In the renewed fight that occurred four people, including a child, were wounded by pellets.

Three tribesmen who are leading supporters of the deposed chief were subsequently given fourteen days within which to show reason why they should not be deported.

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