Matsobane Morris Matsemela was born in 1931. He attended the Mashashane School up to Standard 6. Matsemela started working at his uncle’s dairy farm in Lady Selbourne, and later joined the staff of the Pretoria General Hospital. He joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1957 in Lady Selbourne after having been a member of the ANC Youth League.
In 1959, he was elected as chairperson of the Selbourne ANC Branch. In 1960 after the Sharpeville Massacre, he was arrested with five others and fined. In 1961, he was among the early recruits of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), and was involved in acts of sabotage.
Matsobane was detained in Marabastad with Peter Mogano, Peter Nchabeleng, Nelson Diale, Andries Seome, Andrew Mashaba, Alpheus Mokabe, Jackson Ntsoane and Moses Makitla Molefe. When he was asked to testify against them he refused to cooperate with the police.
He was sentenced in 1964 to seven years and incarcerated in Pretoria Prison. Thereafter he was transferred to Leeuwkop Prison where he met Henry Makgothi, Wilson Mkwayi and others. He was later transferred to Robben Island.
He was released in 1971 and deported to Lenyenye under a banning order for two years. In prison, they were brutally treated and subjected to harsh conditions. Despite persecution and suffering, Matsemela remained a loyal and dedicated member of the ANC of which he is still a member up to this day.
In 2006, he was one of the ANC candidates for the Aganang Region in Limpopo during the local government elections.
Currently, Matsemela is the deputy chairperson of the ANC Veterans’ League in the Capricorn Region in Limpopo and an active member of MK’s Military Veterans’ Association in the province.
On 27 April 2011, the State President, Jacob G Zuma honoured Matsobane Morris Matsemela with the Order of Luthuli in Silver for his sacrifices and dedication to the cause of freedom and democracy.
Article first published by sahistory.org.za