1976 student leader dies in the US

Simon Nare

Simon Nare

A Soweto student activist, who had been in exile in the US since 1977, was found dead in his apartment in Washington three weeks ago.

The body of Paul Mokabe, who did not come back home in the early 90s when most exiles returned, was found badly decomposed by local police.

And now US authorities might have to give him a pauper's funeral because no next-of-kin have come forward to positively identify him.

A close friend, Selby Semela, who skipped the country with the late Tsietsi Mashinini after the June 16 1976 uprisings, found Mokabe's apartment locked when he visited him.

Mokabe is believed to have died a week before police found him.

None of his friends, including Muvhango's Duma ka Ndlovu, know the whereabouts of his family. His mother was believed to have been in Dube, Soweto, but had since relocated to Lesotho.

Ndlovu described Mokabe as a "secretive person" who never spoke about his family.

"I met him two years ago when I went to the US. He was talking tsotsi taal all the time.

"When I asked him when he was planning to come back home he would just say 'jy weet die ding van die dladla' and then just laugh," said Ndlovu.

Dumisani Mtimkhulu, a close friend, said Mokabe was working as a translator for an institution in the US.

In 2003, on Nelson Mandela's 85th birthday, Mokabe posted the following message on the Internet: "Happy birthday TATA! O hole obe o kgokgobe! Matla ke a rona!

Paul Mokabe

Washington DC, USA."