Messages of condolences are pouring in following the death of the co-president of the Black Consciousness Movement, Doctor Nchaupe Mokoape. The family of Doctor Mokoape has confirmed that he died of COVID-19 complications in a Durban hospital at the weekend.
Mokoape became South Africa’s youngest political prisoner at the age of 16 after taking part in the PAC’s anti-pass campaign in 1960.
In the late 1960’s, he met the likes of Steve Biko while studying medicine at the University of Natal in Durban. He was involved in the formation of the South African Students’ Organisation in 1969 and the Black People’s Convention in 1972.
He was arrested together with a number of Black Consciousness leaders and activists after organising rallies in honour of the Mozambican struggle movement Frelimo in 1974.
Doctor Mokoape was tried in terms of the Terrorism Act together with eight other leaders of Saso and the BPC, including Mosioua Lekota.
He was eventually sentenced to 6 years’ imprisonment in 1976.
Black Consciousness Movement co-leader Lybon Mabasa says the arrival of these Black Consciousness activists on Robben Island changed the dynamics between political prisoners and their jailers.
“Dr. Mokoape said to them the only people they need to listen to are the leaders of the BCM, and other liberation movements, but never take instructions from the warders, and the rulers and therefore, they flouted all the rules that before they went to Robben Island were in place. President Mandela was saying the fact that they came out not broken by hard labour is thanks to the young people of Black Conscious Movement because they made no room for compromise or surrendering their rights to fight for their liberation.”
After his release in 1982, Doctor Mokoape was reinstated on the role of a medical practitioner. He practiced medicine in Durban until he retired 10 years ago.
Member of the Black Consciousness Movement, Professor Itumeleng Mosala, says the land question was very much on Doctor Mokoape’s mind in his later years.
“He will be remembered as a stalwart of the revolution in South Africa. He loved black people. He worked for black people. He was committed to the restoration of the land to black people. He didn’t believe in the concept of the distribution of land. He believed in the re-possession and restoration of land to the owners. So, as he died, he was very concerned about the issue of land in our country and the concomitant inequality.”
Doctor Mokoape’s brother, Keith, says the 76-year-old former struggle leader was not in good health.
“Aubrey was sickly. He had a high sugar level. He was 76 years of age. So, he was on and off. But in this particular instance, on Christmas Day, we said that he must go test for COVID- 19 and he came out positive and then we immediately said let’s check other things. The oxygen was very low on Saturday. On Boxing Day, we managed to go to hospital. When we arrived at the hospital it was too late. It has affected us immensely as the family and we know the nation has lost, and the entire community has lost Doctor Nchaupe Aubrey Mokoape. ”
Doctor Mokoape’s funeral service will be held at his home in Kloof, west of Durban, on Friday. He is survived by his wife and three children.