Zeph Mothopeng, President of the PAC dies


Mothopeng Zeph

Tuesday, 23 October 1990

Zephania (Zeph) Mothopeng, President of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) since 1984 dies in Johannesburg at the age of 77. Mothopeng's death came at the time when the PAC was in need of stable leadership during a period of transition in the country. Zephania Mothopeng was born on 10 September 1913 in the Free State in the district of Vrede. Mothopeng attended St Mary Primary School in Daggerskraal in the District of Amersfort in Transvaal where his family had relocated. After passing standard six at St Bedes and St Chads Colleges in Ladysmith, he completed his high school education at St Peters secondary school between 193 and 1937.

Mothopeng joined the African National Congress Youth League in 1943 and was part of the group of Africanists that broke away from the ANC to form the PAC. He was elected as Chairman and a member of the National Working Committee in 1959. Mothopeng was arrested in 1960 for his role in the anti-pass campaign and jailed for two years. After his release Mothopeng was arrested again in 1963 and sentenced in May 1964 for furthering the aims of a banned organization. He served his sentence on Robben Island. He was released in 1967 and banished to Qwaqwa for two years. Mothopeng continued with political activities and as consequence was arrested in 1976 under the Terrorism Act and sentenced to 15 years in prison. While serving his sentence in prison, Mothopeng was elected president of the PAC in 1986.

In November 1988, Mr. Mothopeng was released early from his 15-year prison sentence and settled in Soweto In February 1990; Mothopeng had rejected calls from Nelson Mandela and Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe to join him and other liberation leaders in the multiracial negotiations with the SA government. His position was that the power and control of all the major government institutions should be given to Black people. Mothopeng died On 23 October 1990 aged 77.


  1. Thami ka Plaatjie, The PAC's Internal Underground Activities 1960-1980, in The Road to Democracy in South Africa: 1970-1980, Vol.2, (2006), pp 669-702

  2. Anon, Profile of Zephania Mothopeng, from the Pan Africanist Congress Website, [online], Available at www.pac.org.za [Accessed 22 October 2010]

  3. SAHO, Zephania Lekoane Mothopeng, from South African History Online (SAHO), [online], Available at www.sahistory.org.za [Accessed 22 October 2010]

  4. Christopher S. Wren, (1990), Zephania Mothopeng, 77, Dies; Headed South African Movement from the New York Times, 24October, 1990, [online], Available at www.nytimes.com [Accessed 22 October 2010]

  5. Anon, Zephania Mothopeng, from Digital Innovation South Africa (DISA), [online], Available at www.disa.ukzn.ac.za [Accessed 22 October 2010]

Last updated : 10-Oct-2013

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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