Nkutsoeu Motsau battles with disability

* By Frans Pale

During my recent trip to Cape Town on the Africa Aerospace Day,  I got an opportunity to meet Nkutsoeu Motsau (53), affectionately known among the Azanian People/s Organisation (AZAPO) members as Skaap

My meeting with Skaap this time, was different from other occasions in the past when we spent time together plotting and executing ways of eliminating black oppression in South Africa. He was then Secretary of Defence for the Black Consciousness Movement of Azania (BCMA). As a leader, he left no one in doubt about his intentions to see South Africa a free country. 

To that extent, together with Mosibudi Naledi Mangena, the then Chairperson of BCMA in exile and Tlhomane Mabasa, the then head of Military Affairs Committee (MAC) of the Azanian National Liberation Army (AZANLA), Skaap traveled to African countries such as Djibouti, Eritria, Lybia, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania and numerous European countries where the trio canvassed for the need to overthrow the oppressive racist regime in South Africa. He was then full of life, ever joking and laughing. To most of us in  MAC, he was fondly known as Wa Papa, a common name he used to address cadres of AZANLA.

Now, on 16 September this year, as I got into a taxi from Ysterplaat to Cape Town Bus Rank and then to Khayelitsha, I was overwhelmed with mixed feelings and fond memories of once again being in the presence of  Wa Papa and listening and laughing to his jokes. Although I had heard from comrade Mpotseng Kgokong that Skaap got badly hurt in a near fatal car accident and was 

bed-ridden, I was not mentally prepared to find him in that state.

A knock at number A60 Zodiac Street, brought my attention to the true reality and conditions under which Skaap currently lives. I was led to his room by Mma Radebe (his helper). There was Skaap lying on his back on a bed. A glance at him brought tears to my eyes. I managed to suppress the tears, fearful of causing drama to Mma Radebe and the other two young people who were attending to him.

My tears were again buttressed by Skaap’s bright face and open smile as he greeted me. “ Ah Fora, so you came to see me again. You are a real friend indeed.” He commended as I stood there facing him, not knowing whether I should greet and embrace him without hurting his body. Mma Radebe offered me a chair. I sat down and braved up to talk to him.

He told me how he got out of a car accident and found himself a paralysed man on a bed at Johannesburg Hospital. He also told me that I should not worry much because his left hand could now manage to wipe tears of joy from his face. He further asked me to help him obtain a wheel chair and a computer so that he can continue with his life. “Disability is not inability” he reminded me. 

I got emotionally healed from his courageous words in the six hours that I spent with him. “Ke a leboga comrade Johannes.” I said to him jokingly as I reminded him of his chimurenga (revolutionary) name. 

Many people in current South Africa, especially those in the ranks of Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) know Skaap as a courageous, committed and advocate of black emancipation in our country. As I stepped out of his house in Khayelitsha, my mind tossed back in the passage of time, when he led the armed young men and women of AZANLA. I remembered the long walks during rainy days that I did with him on reconnaissance missions for AZANLA, both inside and outside this country. I also recalled his words when he told AZANLA cadres “to take advantage of the stormy weathers to surprise and attack the enemy.”

As a cadre of the (BCM), I had the chance to meet Skaap for the first time in the mid-eighties at Dukwe Refugee Settlement in Botswana. Prior to my departure for exile in 1985, I  knew that Skaap was one of the BCM activists who had spent five years at the then infamous racist Robben Island for his political beliefs. My encounter with him revealed to me a man possessed with the mind and passion for the liberation of his people. 

He comes across as someone, who the liberation movement in this country can hardly do without, especially at this critical moment of post-apartheid South Africa when the struggle for the workers is beginning to take shape. To a greater degree, he symbolises part of all the instruments that brought about political change in this country. Thanks to his caring wife, comrade Nosiphiwo Tyatyaza Motsau and all others who look after him, especially Mma Radebe.

At the time of the accident in June 2005, Skaap was National Treasurer of AZAPO.


About the Author : Frans Pale is former Chairperson of the East Rand Region of AZAPO and Political Commissar of AZANLA. He is currently a Journalist with Ad Astra magazine at the South African Air Force Headquarters in Pretoria.