Cde Sedupe "Rams" Ramokgopa


Sedupe Josiah “Rams” Ramokgopa (86) was born in Orlando East, Soweto on the 25th of March 1937. He was the second-born child of Tobola Baldwin Ramokgopa and Mapula Frieda Ramokgopa (nee Madiba). When he was a young boy, his family moved across the river to Orlando West which is where he was raised in a family of political activists. Sedupe attended local schools and matriculated from Orlando High School in 1956. As a teenager in 1952, Sedupe became involved in the activities of the Defiance Campaign and was recruited to distribute pamphlets and copies of the New Age during this campaign of mass disobedience.

After high school, Sedupe worked for the Johannesburg City Council as a surveyor and then as a clerk for MG Motors as a means of raising funds for university. He subsequently enrolled at the University of Fort Hare where he completed his Bachelors and Honours degrees in Physics in 1965. In 1968 he graduated with an M.Sc in Theoretical Solid-State Physics from Unisa.

At Fort Hare, Sedupe met Nomathemba Matshoba who would become his wife and lifelong partner. They were blessed with a daughter and son, Dineo and Itumeleng.

In 1969, Sedupe moved to Swaziland where he took up a post at Salesian High School as a mathematics teacher. During this period he co-authored a mathematics text-book and was passionately known as Rams, by everybody alike, students, friends, priests and the Swaziland community. He was instrumental in changing the world of the pure sciences at the school. His political family in Swaziland consisted of the struggle leadership in exile of the ANC and PAC, who were in subsequent years the foundation of the future of South Africa. Whilst teaching in Swaziland he would come to South Africa for activities of SASO and the Black Consciousness Movement which played the role of keeping him in touch with operations on the ground.

Sedupe returned to Johannesburg in 1974 to work as a Systems Engineer for IBM. After Soweto erupted in June 1976, Sedupe was active in forming the Soweto Committee of Ten after the collapse of the Soweto Urban Bantu Council. The Committee of Ten drew up a blueprint for Soweto which envisaged a Soweto City Council with powers and structures similar to those of a municipal city council. It intended to present this to the people of Soweto at a public meeting on 31 July 1977, but the meeting was banned and a number of the Committee’s members were detained in terms of the Internal Security Act.

It was at this time that Sedupe became executive director of the Black Community Programmes (BCP) establishing its Regional Branch in the then Transvaal Province. BCP was the umbrella development organisation operating under the Black People’s Convention with Hlaku Rachidi serving as its President and Steve Biko as its honorary President. In October 1977 there was a massive countrywide clampdown that saw 18 Black Consciousness organisations, two newspapers The World and Weekend World, and the Christian Institute’s publication. Pro Veritate, shut down. Sedupe was detained without trial for 384 days at Modderbee Prison under Section 10, of the Internal Security Act.

Upon his release, late in 1978, he was banned for five years and restricted to the Magisterial District of Johannesburg. Anglovaal employed him in 1979 as a research scientist involved in the production of methanol from coal. Due to constant surveillance by the security police which took the form of de-stabilisation of his employment situation, Rams worked as a Life Insurance broker at various times for financial institutions such as, African Life, Anglo American Life, and African Bank. He was elected the AZAPO Secretary of Education from 1982 – 1985.

At the end of 1987, Rams joined Funda Centre (a non-formal adult education institution) as Executive Director until 1991, when he became a Senior Specialist (Education and Training) in policy research and analysis, and programme management at the Development Bank of Southern Africa. Sedupe joined Mintek in 1994 as the Vice-president responsible for Communications, Information Management and Human Resource management.

From 1995 to 1998, he served as a Member of Council of the University of Witwatersrand. In 1999 he was bestowed the national honour of the Star of South Africa by former President Nelson Mandela. Sedupe was inducted as the President of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM) in 2002.

In 2003 Sedupe was one of the founders of a mining exploration company, Rand Quest Syndicate which was involved in gold mining and was successfully listed on both the JSE and the LSE as Central Rand Gold in 2008.

Sedupe became an ordained priest of the Anglican Church in 2000 and in 2010 completed an M.Phil in Philosophy from St Augustine College of South Africa. From 2002 – 2011 he was an assistant priest at St. Aidan’s Anglican Church in Yeoville.

Sedupe departed this earth on the 12th of January to be reunited with Thembi in the celestial realm. He will be remembered for his intellect, wide breadth of knowledge, sense of humour and beautiful, caring heart. He leaves behind his children Dineo and Tumi, 3 grandchildren Mashadi, Mohlomi and Lebone, sister Mmamudi and numerous nieces and nephews.

Robala ka Khutso Nkwe Maimela, Sedupe sa bo Manyama, ngwana oa kgoshi ea luba.

# Prepared by the family.