Peter Mampogoane Nchabeleng was born on 03 March 1928, at Apel in Sekhukhuneland in the then Northern Transvaal. He was the President of United Democratic Front (UDF) Northern Transvaal
In the 1950s, Nchabeleng was the Pretoria regional secretary of the ANC and an executive member of the office workers union – an affiliate of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (Sactu) – and Sebatakgomo, a peasant resistance movement which resisted the imposition of Bantu Authorities in Sekhukhuneland.
He also worked as an interpreter for lawyer, the late Joe Slovo, who defended many accused in the Sekhukhuneland revolts that followed. In 1962, Nchabeleng was charged for furthering the aims of a banned organisation – the ANC – and for sabotage.
He was sentenced to eight years imprisonment on Robben Island.
After his imprisonment, his family was deported from Atteridgeville in Pretoria to Apel in Sekhukhuneland.
On his release from Robben Island, he was also banished to Sekhukhuneland and banned. According to his daughter Pinky, when he was brought to Apel from Robben Island, the security police told him “here (Apel) nobody will listen to you” – referring to his political views and activities.
He was arrested again in 1974 and given a three year suspended sentence by the Pretoria Supreme Court for contravening his banning order.
In 1977, he was charged with harbouring and recruiting people for military training, along with Joe Gqabi.
He stood trial in the famous Pretoria 12 terrorism trial with the former Minister of Human Settlements, Tokyo Sexwale, Bafana Mohlamonyane, Naledi Tsiki, Nelson Diale, Martin Ramokgadi and his son Elleck, among others.
In 1978, he was acquitted together with Gqabi but his son Elleck was found guilty and sentenced to six years imprisonment on Robben Island.
Gqabi was later killed while an ANC chief representative in Zimbabwe in 1981.
After being acquitted in 1978, Nchabeleng’s banning order was renewed for five years.
In 1982, an attempt on his life aborted when he detected a letter bomb addressed to him at his Apel home. After this incident, he indicated to the leadership of the then banned ANC that his life was in danger and it was now time for him to go into exile.
He was advised against this move as the ANC saw him playing an important role inside the country at the time.
After his banning order expired in 1984, he became a member of the UDF Northern Transvaal co coordinating committee and in February 1986, he was elected the first president of the Northern Transvaal region of the UDF. Nchabeleng was also a member of the Sekhukhuneland parent’s crisis committee, which spearheaded a campaign for Lebowa MPs from the area to resign from the Bantustan Legislative Assembly as apartheid regime’s quislings.
After his election as the UDF Northern Transvaal president, he was tasked with the formation of different community and youth structures in the region – working closely with youth leaders such as Peter Mokaba, France Mohlala, Ephraim Mogale – the first president of the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) and his son, Elleck.
On 11 April 1986, while on his way home from a UDF meeting in Mankweng, Turfloop, Nchabeleng was told that police were looking for him. He continued his journey arguing that if police were looking for him, they would find him at home. When he arrived, Lebowa police detained him.
A veteran congress activist and a charismatic political dynamo, he passed away on 11 April 1986 at the Schoonoordt police station – 13 hours after he was detained by the Lebowa police. His passing sparked protests and condemnation throughout the country and abroad.
His passing also sparked a consumer boycott of white towns in the Northern Transvaal.
After his passing, his body was hidden from his family by the police until it was found in a government morgue in Groblersdal.
Nine members of the Lebowa police’s Mankweng riot squad were found by the inquest magistrate to be responsible for his passing.
Summary: Peter Nchabeleng died in Lebowa on the 11th April 1986. He was in custody for 1 day and the official / alleged cause of death was police assault.