Friday Feature

Khotso Seatlholo

Student Leader & Political Activist

Khotso Seatlholo was born on 5 November 1958 in Moletsane, Soweto, and was raised by both parents. His revolutionary consciousness came to him at a young age, as he would regularly witness his father exclusively supporting the black economy, and never being afraid of confronting any Afrikaaner under oppression.

At age 16 he was a student at Naledi High School  in Soweto where he became the Deputy President of the Soweto Student Representative Council (SSRC), with the President being Tsietsi Mashinini. The two, along with students under The Black Consciousness Movement planned the peaceful protest of 1976 which turned into both a bloody and deadly affair.

Khotso Seatlholo survived being shot in ’76 and then became the president of the SSRC after Mashinini went into exile to escape apartheid police, following a witch hunt against him by then Prime Minister John Vorster’s Security Police.

As president of the SSRC ,Seatlholo elevated it and worked to ensure an intergenerational link between students, parents and workers in their struggles. With this unity, there were never-ending successful strikes and boycotts. One of the more successful ones were called “Black Christmas” wherein Khotso asked of all blacks to avoid any Christmas shopping, in attempts to wield a major blow on the country’s economy.

For his political activism Khotso survived being shot at in December 1976, and in 1978, he was forced into exile in Botswana where he joined Tsietsi Mashinini. Seatlholo would secretly come in and out of the country, from time to time, during the years that followed his exile.

In 1981, during one of his secret visits to South Africa, the Security Police arrested Seatlholo and charged him under the Terrorism Act.

He had come in to the country to recruit and garner support for the South African Youth Revolutionary Council (SAYCRO), the military wing of the SSRC. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Seatlholo was released in 1990 with the likes of former President Nelson Mandela, when South Africa was in the midst of a political transition.

After his release from prison, Seatlholo was unemployed, and forgotten and became a loner. He died at his home in Pimville, Soweto, after complaining of a stomach ache in 2004. He was buried at the Avalon Cemetery and is survived by 3 daughters and Wife.

Accessed from: SA History Online & Joburg Post

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