7 July 1977, Phakamile Mabija dies after “falling” from the 6th floor of the Tvl Rd police station
Phakamile Mabija (1950 – 1977)
Phakamile Mabija, aged 27 years, was a black 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 Black and Coloured commuters stoned public transport during a bus boycott in the Galeshewe suburb.
His sister Sylvia Mabija said: “Phakamile was a very good child and he hated everything that was wrong. He was a person who was involved with the scouts and church activities and he was involved in everything…at school, sports and he was a person who wanted the best and who was goal orientated and he committed himself in achieving his goals.
“He was a person who was a visionary who channelled all his energies to accomplish the best of things. He wanted success – he wanted the good things to succeed. He would say “I want a plan to succeed and when it succeeds it should benefit all”. He always wanted his dreams to come true and be successful. Everything about him was so amazing because he was such a great person. And about the fact that he killed himself – that is not true – there is no such a thing like that.”
Known to his family and friends as ‘Phaki’, he was due to appear in court on 8 July 1977 on charges under the Riotous Assemblies Act. Mabija died in detention on 7 July 1977, the day before his scheduled court hearing, plunging from the 6th floor of the Transvaal Road police station.
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). 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. 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.
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.
There is a memorial plaque for Phakamile on the wall of St James’ Church, Galeshewe.