DARC Ethiophile Chronicles
On this day on November 26, 1988 two members of the banned liberation movements,
Harry Gwala, a member of the African National Congress (ANC) and
Zephania Mothopeng a member of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) were
released from Robben Island by the government. Both Gwala and Mothopeng
served two terms on Robben Island for their political activities.
After the banning of the ANC in 1960 under the Unlawful Organisations
Act, Gwala became active in underground structures of the ANC until his
arrest in 1964. He was charged with sabotage and recruiting members for
uMkhonto weSizwe (MK). Gwala was sent to Robben Island prison. In 1972
he was released from prison and restricted to Maritzburg in Natal
Province (now known as KawaZulu Natal). After the workers strike in
August 1976, Gwala was arrested again with scores of ANC members and
charged under the Terrorism Act. He was subsequently sentenced to life
imprisonment on Robben Island. In the 1980s, Gwala developed a motor
neuron disease which left him disabled.
Mothopeng was arrested in 1963 and sentenced in May 1964 to 3 years in
prison for furthering the aims of a banned organization, the PAC. He
was sent to Robben Island where he served his sentence. He was released
in 1967 and restricted to Qwaqwa for two years. Mothopeng continued
with his political activities and was arrested in 1976 under the
Terrorism Act and was sentenced to 15 years in prison on 26 June 1979.
Even after their release, both men remained politically active within
their respective organizations until their transition into the realm of