Kgosi[Chief] Abram Ramotshere Pogiso Moiloa, a key figure in the Bahurutshe resistance of the 1950s, took office in 1932 at the age of 22. He went up ‘to standard five [grade seven] level’ at a local school and then attended Tiger Kloof Native Institution, a London Missionary Society school established near Vryburg [North West Province] in 1904 for a couple of years.

Conflict between the Hurutshe and the apartheid state came into the open in the early 1950s when [H.F.] Verwoerd summoned chiefs, including Kgosi Moila, to Rustenberg [North West Province] to secure their agreement to the implementation of Bantu Affairs.

KgosiMoiloa described the meeting and his reaction in the following way: ‘We were called to Rustenberg to hear about this law: “Why do you try to persuade us to sign this Act when already you have passed it in your Parliament?” I was told to sit down. Dr Verwoerd did not answer the question. It seems to us that they just want us Chiefs to sign a document that says “Destroy me, baas! Let them destroy us without our signatures.”

During 1955, KgosiMoiloa ‘closed the Lutheran church and boycotted its centenary celebrations,’ and railed ‘against the Bantu Authorities Act, the Bantu Education Act and the suggested removal of the Hurutshe “black spots.”’ Considered a "thorn in the flesh” of the Native Affairs Department (NAD) he ‘was placed under investigation, “with a view to requesting the department to remove him from the chieftainship and banish him from Linokana Reserve (Zeerust), Marico District, Transvaal [North West Transvaal, now North West Province].” A subsequent inquiry conducted by the Native Commissioner (NC) for Pilansberg found Abraham “guilty” of eighteen charges of misconduct.’

On 22 March 1957, the government issued Notice No. 421 proclaiming that passes were to be issued to Hurutshe women. A week later, Kgosi Moiloa was summoned by the NC to his office in Zeerust and ‘was instructed to command his women to present themselves at the Dinokana kgotla on 1 April to receive their Reference Books.’  On 1 April 1957, only 76 women presented themselves for reference books.  As Dinokana was the royal village, this was a major setback to the NC’s plans.

Kgosi Moiloa was ordered to a meeting that was to be addressed by the Chief Regional Commissioner. At this meeting, he was told that ‘You are Chief no longer. You are deposed. In 14 days be out of this village. Without the permission of the Native Commissioner you are not to return.’

The documentation related to his banishment set out the circumstances from the perspective of the state: ‘instead of urging that the women apply for’ pass books ‘he encouraged them to refuse,’ and he also created the conditions for state officials being forced to flee Bahurutshe, and for “leftists” ‘to burn down the houses of and assault the peace-loving population.’ In addition, although he left Dinokana ‘ stay with a family member in Ventersdorp...he kept interfering in tribal matters through the use of messengers.’ Finally, recourse was made to the view of a Commission of Enquiry ‘that Moiloa needed to be moved further away, “not based on any allegations of misconduct... but solely as a matter of policy dictated by the Native view that “Once a Chief, always a Chief.”’

KgosiMoiloa had returned to Dinokana following the death of his partner in November 1957, and in order ‘to not be able to influence administrative or other affairs there,’hewas banished on 27 February 1958 to ‘Binfield Native Reserve’ in the Victoria East district of the Cape [Eastern Province, now Eastern Cape]. However, ‘he crossed into Botswana in late January 1958 and”¦sought protection for himself and a number of his followers from the bamaNgwato paramount Tshekedi Kgama at Pilikwe.’ He was connected to the African National Congress (ANC) in exile and also to a ‘number of recruits from Dinokana who served in the celebrated Luthuli Detachment. These men recall encountering him both in Botswana and in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, in the late 1960s.’ Kgosi Moiloa was also a ‘catalyst for the many men who went into exile from’ Bahurutshe.

His banishment order was revoked on 1 January 1971. Today, in acknowledgment of his contributions to the struggle for democracy a local municipalitywith Zeerust as the seatbears the name Ramotshere Moiloa.


Contribution by Professor S. Badat on Banishment, Rhodes University, 2012. From the book, Forgotten People - Political Banishment under Apartheid by Professor S. Badat

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