Selaelo Charles Ramusi

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Biographical information

Synopsis:

In summary: organiser of the 1970 South African Student Organisation (SASO), Student Christian Movement, exile, first commander of the Transvaal Urban Machinery based in Swaziland.

First name: 
Selaelo
Middle name: 
Charles
Last name: 
Ramusi
Location of birth: 
Dube Village, Soweto, Transvaal (now Gauteng)
Location of death: 
Matshapa Maximum Prison, Swaziland

Selaelo Charles "Dan" Ramusi was born 14 November 1954 in Dube Village, Soweto, Transvaal (now Gauteng). He was the first born son of the late Collins Molapatene, an attorney and social worker and Mary Jane Thabo (nee Morare) Ramusi, a professional nurse. He had two brothers Sekgweng “Junior” and Mothibi.

His academic life began at Henley, Matseke and Hwiti High schools. He later enrolled at the University of the North (Turfloop) (now Limpopo University). He grew up in Dube Village, Soweto, Seshego (Limpopo), Vryburg, Mahikeng and Lesotho. He was a scholar of note—excelling in mathematics, science, music and dance. He was one of the organisers of the 1970 South African Student Organisation (SASO), Student Christian Movement (underground operations). Ramusi was among the underground student leaders mobilising participation into politics through innovative acts such as, their “monkey jives” dance shows at various venues, such as, Eyethu in Mofolo, Soweto, Durban, etc. His cousin Dr Frans "Bhuddah" Ramusi was ther strategic transport/logistic provider of his team that included his childhood friend Anthony Lolwane, his late cousin Deborah “Debs” Matshoba and others.

Ramusi was also aligned to other musical structures such as the Beaters— a musical band led by Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse, the late Selby Ntuli, later with the band Harari. He mastermind and implemented successful missions in South Africa mobilising, spreading the political message and recruiting cadres as being part of his contributions towards liberating South Africa. He and others organised the Frelimo rally at the University of the North in 1974. The Hamanskraal “Black Renaissance Convention” meeting was another session where he found himself having to face his father, who was at the time the Minister of the then Lebowa Government - a position and responsibility that he took reluctantly - after a clarion call from his community and political forces to join and demolish apartheid from within.

After being arrested on several occasions Ramusi ultimately left South Africa for exile sometime in November/December 1975 to join the African National Congress (ANC), military wing – Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). He received military training in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Later he was deployed in Tanzania, operated and concluded successful assignments in some of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries including but not limited to Angola, Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa. He became the first commander of the Transvaal Urban Machinery (based in Swaziland), which consisted of the former Chief of Defence and Minister of Communications, Gen (Ret) Siphiwe Nyanda, Ntsie Manye and Current Chief of Defence General Solly Shoke.

On 30 November 1975, Tokyo Sexwale, Charles Ramusi, Robert Manci and Amos ‘Malume’ Lubisi infiltrated South Africa from Swaziland. They were picked up by two policemen while waiting for their contact on the South Africa side of the border. Sexwale managed to throw a hand grenade into the front of the van injuring the two policemen but giving time for the MK guerrillas to escape back to Swaziland. Ramusi drove Solomon Mahlangu’s MK unit that left Angola in mid-1977, on a mission to join student protests commemorating the June 16 Uprising in South Africa, to a safe house in Mbabane prior to the unit’s departure for South Africa.

He died at the Matsapa Maximum Prison, Swaziland 11 November 1979 and was laid to rest at his village in Mangata Village, Botlokwa, Limpopo. His father was refused entry back in South Africa to bury him. The apartheid regime instructed his mother, Mary Jane that Ramusi’s funeral was supposed to be a low key and few people were to be allowed to bury him. The family, community and students defied all apartheid laws and buried him as a true hero despite the regime’s instruction that only family was to bury him.

Ramusi received a Medal of Bravery, posthumously, from former President, the late Nelson Mandela at Orlando Stadium on 16 December 1993. He was further recognised as one of the Gauteng born struggle contributors by President Jacob Zuma at the Military Veterans functions held at the Freedom Park in December 2009. His name has also been engraved at the Park.


References:
• 1. Email from Mr Mothibi Ramusi, to SAHO dated 3 October 2014, biographical details on Selaelo Charles Ramusi.
• 2. Soweto My Love, A Testimony to Black Life in Soweto : Molapatene Collins Ramusi and Dr Ruth Turner, 1989.
• 3. Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cast2
• 4. Main Machinery: The ANC's Armed Underground in Johannesburg During the 1976 Soweto Uprising: Thula Simpson a University of Pretoria Published online: 02 Dec 2011.
• 5. ANC second submission to the TRC - Appendix 1

Last updated : 25-Jul-2017

This article was produced by South African History Online on 01-Mar-2012

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