Joe Wetshotsile Seremane

Title Politician and Community Activist.
Other Names
Date of Birth 1938-00-00
Date of Death

Updated 4 Nov 2016.

Seremane was born in Randfontein in 1938. He attended school in Krugersdorp and trained as a teacher at the Wilberforce Teacher Training College. His early initiation into politics was during the Defiance Campaign of 1953 when he was arrested, at the age of 14, for entering the "whites only" section of the Krugerdorp Post Office. Seremane initially joined the African National Congress (ANC) but later switched allegiance to the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) in 1959 and was arrested in 1963 for assisting the PAC underground movement. He was charged, along with 44 others, under the notorious Suppression of Communism Act, brought to law by the former National Party. He was imprisoned for six years on Robben Island. Here he interacted with a large number of political prisoners belonging to other organizations, and developed an aversion to the rigid political differences among the various liberation movements in South Africa. On release, he was stripped of his Section 10 rights (granting urban residence to Africans) and was banished to Mafikeng, where he lived for the next twenty-five years.

In Mafikeng, he continued to have contact with the PAC, and advised a number of local younger black consciousness adherents such as Abram Tiro.  He worked in the interim as a Sales Representative in the North-West province, which forced him to break the terms of his banning orders, which restricted to the Mafikeng district. In March 1976 he was detained yet again and held in solitary confinement for 26 months. When released, Seremane joined the South African Council of Churches as a field worker in the North-West province, where his activities incurred the ire of the Bophuthatswana regime, and was detained on at least three occasions. He was involved in the establishment of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the western Transvaal. Seremane became Chief Lands Commissioner in 1994 adjudicating claims submitted in terms of the Land Restitution Act. In 1994 he joined the Democratic Alliance (DA), and was elected to the National Council of Provinces in 1997, and to the National Assembly the following year. He was elected federal chairperson of the DA in2000.   He stood for leadership of the DA in 2007 but was defeated by Helen Zille. He appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1997 enquiring as to the circumstances surrounding the death of his brother in the ANC camps in Angola. Seremane retired from politics in 2010.

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

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