Mark Shinners grew up in Attridgeville in Pretoria. He became involved in politics as a teenager and joined the Pan Africanist Congress(PAC). This was shortly after the PAC Positive Action Campaign against pass laws, which led to the shootings in Sharpeville and Langa. Shinners and Isaac Mafatse led the PAC’s Pretoria underground activities. They formed the Pretoria branch of the African Students Union of South Africa (ASUSA). The aim of ASUSA was to bring African students together. He became chairman of ASUSA in 1962 at his high school, Hofmeyer High School.
As chairperson, he became very active in addressing problems at the school. These activities led to his arrest for being a member of a banned organization (the PAC) and conspiring to overthrow the government. He was sentenced to ten years on Robben Island.
In prison, he and another young prisoner Tony Suze became founding members of the Makana Football club.
Upon his release, Shinners linked up with other activists like Mafatse and Zephania Mothopeng and together they revived the PAC. After the national uprising in 1976, Shinners and 17 other PAC members were accused of instigating the uprising and were arrested. This led to the Bethal Treason Trial, so named because it took place in the town of Bethal, Mpumalanga (formerly Eastern Transvaal). Shinners and his co-accused were convicted and sent to Robben Island to serve their sentences. Shinners served another ten years on Robben Island.
Following his release from the Island, Shinners played a pivotal role in the talks that led to South Africa’s first democratic constitution. He also gave accounts of the Bethal Treason Trial during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). He now lives in his hometown of Attridgeville, Pretoria.
• Hlongwane A.K. Reflections on the Pan Africanist Congress ‘Underground’ in the Era of the 1976 Youth Uprisings from J Pan African [online] Available at: www.jpanafrican.com [Accessed on 12 April 2012]
• Matibe T. (2009) Renewed commitment to the struggle reverberate on June 16, (17 June 2009) from Mayihlome [online] Available at: https://mayihlome.wordpress.com [Accessed on 12 April 2012]