Johannes Maisha (Stanza) Bopape

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Biographical information

Synopsis:

ANC political activist and civic leader tortured and killed in police custody.

First name: 
Johannes Maisha (Stanza)
Last name: 
Bopape
Date of birth: 
26 April 1961
Location of birth: 
Mamelodi East
Date of death: 
12 June 1988
Location of death: 
Komati River

Stanza Bopape was born on 26 April 1961 in Mamelodi East. He began high school studies at Rebalelaka Secondary. He decided to move to Mamelodi High where he became politically aware. He joined South African Students’ Organisation and the local African National Congress Youth League branch. After matriculating he became involved in his community and was elected in 1987 as the first General Secretary of the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) in Mamelodi.

Believed to be a ‘security’ threat, the Security Police accused him of being a communist and a dangerous influence. Despite being on the run, he managed to mobilize and organize people against apartheid. The police threatened his family almost daily even with death in their efforts to capture him. On 10 June 1988, Bopape was finally arrested by the police. He was taken to John Vorster Square where he was brutally tortured along with, together with Murphy Morobe, a young activist from Soweto. He died on 12 June 1988, while in police custody, apparently from a heart attack following electric shock torture. His body was dumped in the crocodile-infested Komati River on the border of Mozambique and South Africa. On 4 July 1988, police told his parents that he had escaped from prison.

Bopape was survived by both parents and a brother. His father died in 1996. Today his contribution to freedom in South Africa and his role in his community of Mamelodi is commemorated and honoured through a Monument, Clinics, a School and Sport Complex.


References:
• Baloyi, J.S. (2004). Unpublished notes from telephonic interviews with Peter Mareme, ANC Chairman, Mamelodi, 1&2 June.

Last updated : 27-Jul-2011

This article was produced for South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011