Just in: Struggle stalwart Tom Manthata dies after contracting COVID-19

Struggle veteran Tom Manthata passed away on Friday night, 11 July 2020, after contracting COVID-19. The news was shared by Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi on Saturday morning.

This is a developing story, we will provide more details as and when it becomes available.

Go well Ntate Tom Manthata. The struggle continues pic.twitter.com/yfzzhyu81h— Panyaza Lesufi (@Lesufi) July 11, 2020

Thomas Manthata: Life and legacy

Thomas Madikwe Manthata was born on 29 November 1939 in the Northern Transvaal, where he completed his teacher training before teaching primary school for three years. However, he was expelled after "being too political inclined."

'Rigorous, critical teacher'

Manthata began teaching at Sekano Ntoane High School in Soweto in 1967 where he became known as a "rigorous, critical teacher who encouraged political debates among his students", according to SA History.

Some his students included Cyril Ramaphosa and Amos Masondo. Three years later, he facilitated contact between Soweto students and older black consciousness activists who attended the schools as tutors, teachers and speakers.

In addition, Manthata became a part-time student at the University of South Africa. He later also joined both the University Christian Movement and the South African Students' Organisation (SASO).

Wrongly convicted of treason

Manthata was wrongly convicted and spent six years behind bars after a series of detentions and court cases. He worked for the South Africa Council Churches (SACC) in the early seventies, primarily assisting the families of detainees.

He was also a member of the Black  Peoples' Convention (BPC) from 1972, as well as the head of the Johannesburg-Pretoria (REESO) branch of SASO in 1973.

In 1974, Manthata served as the national vice-president of SASO, and served as a member of the BPC executive from 1976 to 1977 Two years later, he spoke at the inaugural conference of the Azanian People's Organisation (APO).

Even though Manthata was convicted of treason in the late eighties, he and all the accused were acquitted on appeal a year later. Two years later, Manthata completed a master's degree at Coventry University in Britain.

He was also commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, served on the Human Rights Commission, and chaired a ministerial committee on care for the elderly.

Yesterday was the 80th birthday of one our countries many unsung heroes; Thomas Madikwe Manthata. Bra Tom is one of those cdes who worked tirelessly, mostly in the background, to the personal benefit of families of detainees, detainees. It's hard to overstate how NB this work was— p.ramakoa (@gedleyi) November 30, 2019

Bra Tom and his ilk were not only providers of practical things like food, money, housing for detainee families but also an immense source of hope for many people who had no where else to turn. He embodies the very best of the Struggle and the very best of humanity. Rona Batho.— p.ramakoa (@gedleyi) November 30, 2019