Japhta Masemola; Leader Freed From S. African Prison

From Times Wire Services

Japhta Masemola, founder of the military wing of the Pan-Africanist Congress who was freed after 27 years in prison, has died in a car accident, his sister said. He was 58.

Masemola was freed along with seven African National Congress leaders last October as a prelude to President F. W. de Klerk's legalization of the two organizations, which had been banned since 1960.

"We just couldn't believe it . . . to die after getting freed after 27 years in prison. He wanted to do so much," said Dorah Maodi, Masemola's sister.

She said he was driving Tuesday night to a hospital northwest of Pretoria to get treatment for his foot when the accident happened.

Masemola was believed the second-longest-serving political prisoner after ANC Deputy President Nelson Mandela, who was freed Feb. 11.

Masemola was sentenced for blowing up power lines and smuggling young men out of the country for guerrilla training.

He joined the ANC Youth League in the early 1950s, supporting Mandela and other league leaders in their attempts to set the ANC on a more confrontational road. But when activists led by the late Robert Sobukwe broke away from the ANC in 1959 over the issues of land ownership, socialism, workers' power and other policies, Masemola joined the new Pan-Africanist Congress.

Masemola had been jailed in the notorious Robben Island prison off Cape Town with other nationalists, including Mandela.

As he celebrated his freedom last October, Masemola told reporters that the PAC, unlike the ANC, would not negotiate with the white government for "what belongs to the people." He declared: "We are not paper tigers. We are the real blood tigers."

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