City to honour late PAC stalwart Zeph Mothopeng
The City of Johannesburg will on Saturday October 22 honour Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) stalwart Zephania “Zeph” Mothopeng by renaming Pela Street in Orlando West, Soweto – where he lived – after him.
Mothopeng, who died in February 1990 at the age of 77, played a key role in the struggle against apartheid. Mothopeng, who was a teacher, mathematician and visionary, was born in 1913 in the Free State town of Vrede. Like many political activists of the time, he cut his political teeth in the ANC Youth League and played a major role in changing the character of the ANC.
In 1956 he joined the Africanist forces in the ANC led by Robert Sobukwe. In April 1959 the grouping broke away from the ANC to form the PAC. Mothopeng was arrested several times and was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment on Robben Island, where ANC leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada and Andrew Mlangeni were also incarcerated.
Incidentally, Mandela and Sisulu were his neighbours in Orlando West. Mothopeng was elected PAC president in 1986 while serving time on Robben Island. He was released in 1988 and died two years later.
On Saturday the City’s Member of the Mayoral Committee for Community Development, Cllr Nonhlanhla Sifumba, will lead the proceedings to honour the late PAC struggle hero. The renaming of Pela Street will be followed by a memorial lecture on his life and legacy by Professor Sipho Tshabalala at Uncle Tom’s Hall.