19 June 1932, Solomon T Plaatje dies in Pimville during a visit.
DID YOU KNOW
Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje’s last public meeting in Kimberley was on 24 May 1932 when he spoke in the Abantu-Batho Hall in No 2 Location, Galeshewe.
Shortly thereafter he travelled to Johannesburg to make arrangements for the publication of some of his writings, but fell ill with a bout of influenza from which he would eventually succumb. He had not been strong since recovering from the Spanish Flu epidemic that swept South Africa and the world in 1918, and while staying with family in Pimville, caught ‘flu yet again which soon turned, fatally, to pneumonia. His wife Elizabeth was urgently called from Kimberley to his bedside, arriving on a cold wintry Sunday morning and later that afternoon, on 19 June 1932, he passed away at the relatively young age of 55 years.
Plaatje’s death was noted in most newspapers, but was not headlines – that being reserved for the infamous Daisy de Melker who was on trial for her life having been arrested for the murder of her son and alleged murder of two husbands. Kimberley‘s Diamond Fields Advertiser had more to say about his death and the man, because after all, he was a son of Kimberley and the editor of the newspaper, George Simpson, was a personal friend.
Well over a thousand Africans, plus many Coloureds, Indians and Whites attended the funeral of Sol Plaatje in Kimberley. The cortege left his Angel Street residence for the service at the German Lutheran Church in No 3 (Meyer’s) Location before the committal service at the West End cemetery.
Plaatje’s brother in law, Isaiah Bud M’Belle, spoke on behalf of the family. He said that Plaatje had died in Johannesburg and he had been urged to have him buried there, but he had refused, knowing that if he allowed that Griqualand West and Kimberley would have blamed him.
Reverend Zacharias Mahabane, who led the service, said that in his death,
“…the African people had lost one of its ablest sons. A large gap had been created in the communal life of the Bantu community of Bechuanaland and Griqualand West. As a writer, he wielded a pen that was mightier than the sword; perhaps one of the ablest pens of all the sons of Africa. As a journalist he was as versatile as he was diplomatic, and shrewd in the selection, preparation and presentation of his matter for the public press. As a speaker he found a ready place in the ranks of the great orators and the country. He was gifted of all requisites for public speaking of a high order, a charming personality, a clear thinking, clear speaking and a clear voice: hence an orator of the order of Demosthenes. A great patriot, he devoted his great talents to the service of his people and country. He lived not for himself, but for others, and ultimately laid down his life on the altar of national interests.”