Phillip Kgosana: PAC Anti-Apartheid Struggle Icon Dies At 80


Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) stalwart and former student activist‚ Phillip Kgosana has died.

The stalwart passed away on Wednesday at the age of 80 in Akacia Private Hospital in Pretoria after a brief illness.

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Kgosana joined politics at a very young age and equally rose through the ranks of the PAC in the 1960’s. He made his mark in March 1960 when he volunteered to replace a regional leader who was arrested on the eve of the anti-pass law campaign.

In March 1960, at the age of 23, the Pan African Congress (PAC) mobilized for mass protests against the apartheid government’s pass laws, which restricted free movement and enforced segregation. Historically, pass laws were enforced on black males, but in 1960, the apartheid government almost passed them on women.

Phillip Kgosana
Phillip Kgosana is lifted up at a march of 30 000 people in protest against the pass laws

69 people were killed in Sharpeville, outside Johannesburg, and much more wounded. In Cape Town, 30 000 people from Langa and Nyanga, led by PAC member Philip Kgosana, marched to police stations to present themselves for arrest.

He was imprisoned, and in the days that followed, police cracked down on protesters, killing three people and wounding 26.


Born in 1936 in Makapanstad in the then northern Transvaal, he graduated from the Lady Selborne High School in Pretoria in 1958 and was awarded a bursary to study commerce at the University of Cape Town. He later pursued his studies in Ethiopia after fleeing the country.

Military Enrollment

Phillip Kgosana enrolled as a military cadet at the Ethiopian Military Academy in 1961. He also worked with the United Nations Childrens’ Fund as a programme development officer and served the UN in various countries around the world from 1974 to 1996,

He came back to South Africa in 1996 after 36 years in exile when he had retired from the United Nations.


Since his death was announced, glowing tributes and condolences have continued to pour in from all quarters of the country.

President Jacob Zuma on Thursday expressed his condolences on Kgosana’s passing.

A statement issued by the presidency reads: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of this former freedom fighter who dedicated his life to the liberation of the people of South Africa. We wish to convey our deepest condolences to the Kgosana family and his political home‚ the Pan Africanist Congress. May his soul rest in peace.”

The Congress of the People (Cope) described Kgosana as a selfless servant of the people and praised him for his wonderful contribution to the anti-apartheid movement.

“He was also one of the selfless servants of our people. He had always put the people first; he was a very good example to many of us who were part of this bitter struggle against apartheid. The passing of Cde Kgosana is not only a loss to his family‚ but to the entire country.”

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The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also sent their condolences to the Kgosana family.

“The EFF honors and celebrates the life of Philip Kgosana and further reiterates his sentiments that under an African government, there should be no child who sleeps on an empty stomach or studies under a tree,” EFF spokesperson Mbuyisen Ndlozi said.

Phillip Kgosana is survived by his wife, Alice, three sons and two daughters.

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