Thula Bopela

Photograph by Val Adamson

Thula Bopela is Chairman of the Council of the organisation PSIRA that regulates the private security industry in South Africa.

As a young man in the early 1960s, Bopela sacrificed his boyhood dream of becoming a lawyer, to follow his duty as a Zulu man to be a warrior against apartheid. He joined the liberation struggle, in the ranks of Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1963. The following year he was sent for military training in the Ukraine. He trained as an artillery specialist, where he graduated top of his class. In 1967, Bopela was part of an MK guerrilla contingent that was captured, tried and sentenced to death in the Salisbury High Court. After two years on Death Row, his sentence was commuted to life and he spent 13 years in prison until freed by Mugabe in 1980. He received a scholarship from the World University in Kenya where he obtained his Sociology/Anthropology degree Cum Laude. He later returned to South Africa from his exile in the Netherlands and began a successful corporate career.

With Daluxolo Luthuli he published Umkhonto we Sizwe, “Fighting for a Divided People”, the first memoir written by men who fought as guerrillas with liberation forces in Southern Africa. Bopela has written numerous political articles on sociopolitical events in South Africa. He draws on his extensive knowledge and experiences to inspire discussion in the ruling party’s structures, especially among young comrades.

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