Braklaagte Resistance

Start Date End Date
1986-00-00 1986-00-00
Political Resistance to Bophuthatswana

The Braklaagte(Lekubu)  and Leeuwfontein (Mokgala) troubles arose as a consequence of the policy of grand apartheid. Both villages ,  were "black spots" amid white owned farmland some 25 kilometres north of Zeerust.  The announcement to reincorporate Braklaagte, which lies north of Zeerust, was made in 1986. The community, which had not been consulted by either the South African nor Bophuthatswana governments, objected and mounted a campaign of petitions and letters to the press to give expression to their sentiments.Their objection was related also to rejection of the authority of the kgosi at Dinokana, from whom they claimed to be independent. This dispute was inflammed by the decision of the Dinokana kgosi, Monnamere Moiloa to place his own appointee, Edwin Moiloa, as "headman" in Braklaagte    (See baHurutshe)  Eventually the acting chief Pupsey Sebogodi, went with a delegation to see Minister Gerrit Viljoen, believing he may be sympathetic to their cause. Two weeks later however Braklaagte was incorporated along with the neighbouring village of Leeuwfontein which had at no time prior to this been mentioned in the proposed incorporation.

The Braklaagte community immediately took the matter to court, giving reasons for their objections to incorporation, and requesting the South African government to provide reasons why incorporation was valid. The Bophuthatswana Judge however ruled that proclamation was valid but the matter was taken on appeal.
After this, between April and July, the two villages were subject to severe harassment by the Bophuthatswana security forces. Scholars mounted a series of school boycotts for which they were arrested and assaulted, Kgosi (chief) Sebogodi was detained under the Bophuthatswana Internal Security Act, and the establishment of a police camp in Leeuwfontein sparked off repeated confrontations between them and the residents. Lucas Mangope, the President of Bophuthatswana, addressed residents on 19 June, threatening them that he would "prick you and pierce you like the prickly pear". On 1 July residents planning a meeting were ordered to disperse, and a police vehicle moved in to the crowd spraying teargas and rubber bullets. In the ensuing confusion, nine policemen and two residents were killed.

 Retribution was swift and brutal. Claiming that the "cold blooded murders" were planned in Johannesburg, the police sealed off the villages and the perpetrators of the killings were hunted down, on occasions with the aid of helicopters.  One hundred and thirty six people were detained and held. Thousands of residents fled or took refuge on the farm of a neighbouring white farmer, Paul van der Merwe. The lawyers that the community had employed, Bell, Dewar and Hall from Johannesburg, were repeatedly refused access to their clients, and, even when they applied successfully to the Supreme Court in Mmabatho for such access, their lawyer, James Sutherland, was refused a visa to enter Bophuthatswana. The press was banned from the two trouble spots, and the Black Sash and the Transvaal Rural Action Committee, which had been active as a support group in the area, were banned in Bophuthatswana. A pervasive climate of oppression clouded the district until the end of the year.  During this time the South African government refused to intervene, the Ambassador to Bophuthatswana, Dr L. Kotze, claiming that the communities were "children of Bophuthatswana".
Sebogodi was removed as Kgosi, and an appointee of Mangope installed in his place. A number of men were subsequently convicted on charges of public violence and two of murder. Only in mid-1991 did the last of the Braklaagte residents return home after being forced to flee the village. In 1991 ANC branches were opened in the villages of Braklaagte and Leeuwfontein which strained relations once more between the residents and the Bophuthtaswana regime. (See also Leeuwfontein and baHurutshe. ). 

South Africa's North-West province: A Guide to its History and Heritage. © 2017

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