In 1956, Paul Ramadiba Mokgathle, a senior headman at Linokana Reserve (Zeerust), Marico District, Transvaal [now North West Province]came into conflict with Chief Lencoe around his ascension to chieftainship, which was rejected by Mokgathle and his followers.

 Mokgathle was then fined a number of cattle and apparently used force to recover the cattle from the Chief. It was claimed by the Native Affairs Department (NAD) that they tried to mediate but failed. Mokgathle was accused of undertaking rebellious activities and hindering the work of NAD employees to the point where the collection of taxes was compromised. He was banished to Glen Red, some 112 kilometres from Vryburg [North West Province], on 8 September 1956.

In 1961, a Sunday Times reporter found him living in a tin shed with one visitor (his partner) in seven years. He received no funds from the state and lived by mending shoes and doing different odd jobs. Illiterate, but “astonishingly eloquent” and characterised, ”even in poor clothes” by the “dignity of a Black nobleman,” he says “he resisted what he believed to be grave mistakes made by the new Chief Edward (Lencoe).” Mokgathle indicated that “at intervals of years, Government officials visit him and say, ‘When are you going to make your peace with the Government?’ “ The last time had been two years previously. His constant response was:

 I cannot make my peace because I have done no wrong. If the Government admits, it is wrong it must take me back to my home, even as it brought me here. If the Government will not do this, I will sit here until I die. The Government can do as it wishes with me”¦I am not afraid because I speak the truth”¦.The Government is not God. I fear only God.

He was permitted to return to Marico on a temporary permit in 1961, and his order was withdrawn on 21 September 1963.


• 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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