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After years in exile, Mampuru's dying wish to come home is finally granted

By unknown | Oct 27, 2006 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Edward Maahlamela

Edward Maahlamela

Ramphela John Mampuru is finally coming home this weekend after years in exile.

A freedom fighter who died and was buried in Lusaka, Zambia, in 1987, Mampuru's remains will be reburied at Msmone Royal Cemetery tomorrow.

It was his dying wish that he should come home.

Born in 1905 in Mamone, Sekhukhuneland, Mampuru died on December 17 1987 at the Lusaka Hospital after a long illness.

A warrior, an organiser, a soldier and a hero, Mampuru started off as a herdboy.

Like other young men of his time, he left home in search of work.

It was on the Reef that he learnt how to read and write, a skill that was to prove useful throughout his life.

In 1934 Mampuru married his first wife, Ntepane Thobejane, with whom he had three children.

In 1949 Mampuru joined the ANC, mobilising local people to swell the liberation movement's ranks.

After the restriction of Gert Sibande, the "Lion of the Lowveld", Mampuru was deployed by the ANC to do the difficult and tortuous work of organising farmworkers who lived in slave-like conditions in the Bethal area in Mpumalanga into the South African Congress of Trade Unions.

He worked closely with the Transvaal president of the ANC, Elias Moretsele.

His success with farmworkers landed him on the security police's most-wanted list, signalling the beginning of his running battles with the police.

He was forced underground and continued the work of the movement under difficult conditions.

When the ANC was banned in 1960, he was instructed to go into exile.

At about that time he married his second wife, Thalitha Mokgadi. They had five children.

He left the country for Botswana, then proceeded to Tanzania.

His next stop was the former Soviet Union in 1964 to undergo military training.

He was part of the Luthuli detachment and participated in heroic joint MK-Zipra operations in Wankie and Spolilo, Zimbabwe, in 1966 and 1967.

In exile Mampuru was instrumental in the political, organisational and military work of the ANC.

Between 1976 and 1980 he operated from Swaziland and Mozambique as a member of the internal political reconstruction committee. He worked extensively and closely with Jacob Zuma, Joe Slovo and Oliver Tambo.

Chief Mampuru, as he was affectionately known in exile, never gave up on the dream of liberating this country. But just three years before Nelson Mandela was released, death robbed the movement of one of its most dedicated cadres.

Despite being a royal - he was the son of Chief Malekutu - he chose to be a servant of the people of South Africa.

Mampuru is survived by his second wife, seven children, 19 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

The service starts at 8am.


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