01 February 2013

40 Years since the assassination of student leader Onkgopotse Tiro

Onkgopotse Ramothibi Tiro was aged 29 when assassinated by a parcel bomb sent by apartheid agents to him in Botswana on 1 February1974. He led the South African Students' Organisation (SASO) and was also president of the Southern African Students' Movement (SASM), an affiliate of the All-African Students' Union (AASU).

The parcel was reported to have been brought to him by a fellow student and it was disguised as a university exchange programme letter. Upon opening it, it exploded, killed him instantly and tore his body into pieces.

As a result, boycotts by black students erupted in different parts of the country with some institutions forced to shut down until order was restored.

As an alumnus of the University of Limpopo, he was honoured by having one of the university halls named after him in September last year (2012).

Tiro's case arguably forms part of the Unfinished Business of the TRC as it failed to conduct an in-depth formal investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death. The family was left with many unanswered questions. All they know is that he was a potential target of assassination by the apartheid security forces.

During the unveiling of the plaque at the University of Limpopo, his maternal aunt, Bafedile Masoba, was quoted in the New Age saying days before he was slain they heard rumours that apartheid police had recruited black informers to monitor his movements.

"He was first called by some white agents who offered to give him a house and Mercedes-Benz car on condition he agreed to sell out black people. Of course he refused and chose to stand for justice," said his aunt on the New Age.

SAHA developed a virtual exhibition 'The Future is Ours - commemorating youth in the struggle' for Youth Month (June 2012).
Visit the virtual exhibition
For Onkgopotse Tiro's records from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, visit the new TRC web portal developed by SAHA in pertnership with the SABC. On this portal you will be able to view all trancripts and video footage of all televised TRC hearings as well as TRC Final Report.
Visit the website