Steve Biko: Anti-Apartheid Activist’s Letter To Be Auctioned In The US


Los Angeles-based online auction firm, Nate D. Sanders Auctions, has confirmed that a letter signed by anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko regarding the death and investigation of Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) member Mapetla Mohapi will be auctioned in the United States on Thursday.

In a statement, Nate D. Sanders disclosed that bids for the letter, which was written by the human rights activist from King William’s Town on January 12, 1977, would open at US$3 000 – which is about R43 400.

Nate. D. Sanders described itself as an “online leader for auction and consignments including autographs, memorabilia, historical documents, fine art, books and more.” The auctioning firm, however, did not mention how the letter got to its office.

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In the letter, Biko, who was barred by the apartheid South African government from leaving King William’s Town, asked for the permission to meet with Mohapi’s attorneys regarding his inquest, since he died in police custody the previous year.

The apartheid government had barred Biko because it viewed the Black Conscious Movement as a threat and had wanted to prevent him from organising anti-apartheid activities around the country.

Steve’s letter reads:

“I have been asked by the attorney representing the Mohapi family in the above matter to make myself available for consultations on the 16th January with their Counsel as well as attend the inquest which has been set down for the 17th and 18th January.”

“Kindly grant me the necessary permission to enter the premises of the King William’s Town Magistrate’s Court on the relevant dates and to attend the consultations, which will be held somewhere in King William’s Town. I do not as yet know where exactly Mr Mxenge plans to have the consultation.”

According to reports, Mapetla Mohapi was one of the vocal proponents in eliminating the racial segregation and was also BCM’s early leaders alongside Steve Biko. He died in detention on September 2, 1947.

To date, the cause of his death is still unknown despite claims by the apartheid government that he committed suicide.

Every year on the 12th September, South Africa commemorates the death of Steve Bantu Biko, who died naked on a mat, on a stone floor prison cell after he was tortured by bloodthirsty apartheid police.

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Born on 18 December 1946, in Ginsberg, Eastern Cape, Biko died on 12 September 1977 in a police cell in Pretoria after his arrest on 18 August at a police roadblock near Grahamstown in 1977 for violating the order restricting him to King William’s Town.