Phakamile Mabija

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Phakamile Mabija was an African anti-Apartheid activist, and member of the Anglican Nomads Educational Group, who was detained by the South African Police on 27 June 1977 for alleged involvement in an incident when African and Coloured commuters stoned public transport during a bus boycott in Galeshewe, Kimberley, South Africa. Mabija was due to appear in court on 8 July 1977 under charges under the Riotous Assemblies Act. Mabija died in detention on 7 July 1977, the day before his scheduled court hearing. He plunged from the 6th floor of Transvaal Road police station in Kimberley.[1]

The Dean of Kimberley, as Vicar General, received the news in the absence of Bishop Graham Charles Chadwick (Mabija was a full-time youth worker in the Anglican Parish of St James, Galeshewe[2] ). Upon his return, Chadwick took up the protest against Mabija's death (particularly after the inquest proved to be a fiasco) and the continued detention of his clergy.[3] White wooden crosses were planted on the lawn outside Kimberley's St Cyprian's Cathedral for each day that the detentions continued, church bells being rung in protest.

Naming of streets to commemorate Phakamile Mabija[edit]

In 2009 steps were taken to rename the Transvaal Road Police Station in Mabija's memory, when initially Transvaal Road, Jones Street and Sidney Street, and then only Transvaal Road, in Kimberley would also become known as Phakamile Mabija Road.[4][5]

The renaming of Transvaal Road and Jones Street in Kimberley, as Phakamile Mabija Road, was marked by a ceremony held on Heritage Day 24 September 2011, following a commemorative lecture the previous evening.[6][7][8][9] The city had previously named a street for Mabija, namely Phakamile Mabija Street, off Albert Luthuli Street, off John Daka, west of Otto’s Kopje Mine.[10]

On the occasion of the renaming of Transvaal Road, in 2011, a memorandum was delivered at the Transvaal Road Police Station calling for it to be renamed "Phakamile Centre".[11]

Mabija was commemorated also in the Northern Cape Department of Roads and Public Works initiative, the Phakamile Mabija Artisan Programme. Through this 2010-11 project 35 learners were placed at COEGA member companies in the Eastern Cape to receive working experience and access to further studies.[12]

A collective mural art project in Galeshewe, Kimberley, directed by Rochester Mafafu, vividly recalls the events surrounding Mabija's death. This was partly painted-over in 2013 (during local government building maintenance) but was subsequently restored by the artists [13]


  1. ^ Evidence before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  2. ^ Evidence before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  3. ^ Obituary, The Rt Revd Graham Charles Chadwick. Church Times, Issue 7549 - 16 November 2007
  4. ^ Noordkaap newspaper 8 April 2009
  5. ^ Diamond Fields Advertiser, 10 June 2009, "Public participation an afterthought", page 2.
  6. ^ Diamond Fields Advertiser, 9 September 2011, "Sol changes street names", page 10
  7. ^ Diamond Fields Advertiser, 26 September 2011, "City Streets Renamed", page 1
  8. ^ Ironically, on Googlemaps, as of 21 May 2013, only "Jones Street" has been replaced with "Phakamile Mabija Street", while "Transvaal Road" remains on the map (despite the error being pointed out): on the ground "Transvaal Road" continues to be used as a street address by some residents and business premises.
  9. ^ MEC Pauline Williams stated on 23 May 2012 that "The names of Transvaal Road, Sidney Street and Jones Street in the Kimberley Central Business District have been changed to Phakamile Mabija Drive" (Address by Ms PJ Williams MEC for Northern Cape Sport, Arts and Culture, to the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature on the occasion of tabling of Budget Vote 7 for 2012/13 Financial Year, 23 May 2012, accessed on 28 May 2013) - although, again, Sidney Street continues to feature on Googlemaps
  10. ^ 28°43′21″S 24°43′08″E / 28.72250°S 24.71889°E / -28.72250; 24.71889
  11. ^ “Renaming on hold for now” by Ishmael Modiba, The New Age, 28 Sep 2011
  12. ^ Northern Cape Business feature on the Department of Roads and Public Works, 2010-11
  13. ^ Beangstrom, P. 2014. Vandals wreak havoc - City's heritage is under threat. Diamond Fields Advertiser 23 Sep 2014 p 2.

Allen, V. Mngqolo, S. & Swanepoel, S. 2012. The struggle for liberation and freedom in the Northern Cape 1850-1994. McGregor Museum: Kimberley

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