Mosiuoa Gerard Patrick "Terror" Lekota
Mosiuoa Gerard Patrick "Terror" Lekota, leader of the prospective breakaway from South Africa's ruling African National Congress, cut his teeth in politics as a follower of the black consciousness mov
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Mosiuoa Gerard Patrick "Terror" Lekota, leader of the prospective
breakaway from South Africa's ruling African National Congress, cut his
teeth in politics as a follower of the black consciousness movement
made famous internationally by Steve Biko. Lekota transferred his
allegiance to the non-racial ANC as a political prisoner on Robben
Island, then helped form the anti-apartheid United Democratic Front in
1982, and rose to become ANC party chairman and Minister of Defence.
This biography is published on the ANC's website:
Mosiuoa Gerard Patrick "Terror" Lekota
(At a Glance)
Date of Birth: Aug/13/1948
Place of Origin: South Africa
In a letter to his daughter from prison - later published in a
collection of such letters - "Terror" Lekota writes:
"Above all then, my dear, I am in prison for the sake of peace for our
country and the world. I am in prison so that our generation may leave
to yours and later generations a country and a world that has the
greatest potential for progress."
Inspiring words from a man who spent nearly a third of his life behind
Lekota was born in Kroonstad on August 13 1948. He was the eldest of
seven children in a working-class family. He did his schooling mainly
in Kroonstad, but matriculated from St Francis College, Mariannhill, in
1969. Steve Biko had passed through this school just a few years
Lekota entered the University of the North in 1971. Here he became
involved in SASO [the South African Students' Organisation]. At the end
of 1973, SASO's
full-time organiser Abraham Tiro had to flee the country and Lekota
took his place.
In September 1974, when SASO began to organise rallies to celebrate the
independence of Mozambique, the state stepped in. Lekota was arrested,
along with eight other SASO leaders, including Saths Cooper and Strini
Moodley, and charged under the Terrorism Act. In the trial that
followed he was sentenced to six years in prison, which he served on
Robben Island. He was released at the end of 1982.
On the Island Lekota shared the company and experience of the ANC's
imprisoned leaders. Like many other black consciousness adherents, his
political beliefs moved towards non-racialism. On August 20 1983,
exactly eight months after his release from prison, he attended the
national launch of the UDF [United Democratic Front] and was elected
national publicity secretary. As he afterwards confessed, it was not an
The UDF's leaders were harassed ruthlessly in the years that followed.
Lekota was arrested in 1984, and then released. He became involved in
the rent boycott in the Vaal Triangle. In April 1985 he was arrested
again, along with other leaders, and charged with high treason.
The Delmas Trial ground into motion. In November 1988 Lekota was one of
four accused found guilty. He was sentenced to 12 years. However, the
trialists appealed against their conviction, and in December 1989 they
were acquitted. Lekota, who had been held without the possibility of
bail throughout the proceedings, had spent four and a half years behind
bars for a crime he did not commit.
After the unbanning of the ANC, Lekota spent time as first chairperson
of the Southern Natal region, then chairperson of the Northern Free
State region. He was elected on to the NEC in 1991.
It's strange that such a warm and caring man should have the nickname
"Terror". In fact, he did not get this name in the political arena as
many people think, but on the sports field. As a soccer player his boot
struck terror into the heart of the bravest goalkeeper.
From 1994 until 1996 Lekota was the first Premier of the Free State
province. He was chosen to be the first Chairperson of the new National
Council of Provinces when it convened in February 1997.
After the second democratic elections, June 1999, he was appointed
Minister of Defence.