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Obituaries | PASSINGS

Joe Modise, 72; Ex-Defense Minister Opposed Apartheid

November 29, 2001

Joe Modise, 72, who led the armed struggle to topple apartheid and went on to become South Africa's defense minister in 1994, died Monday of cancer in Pretoria.

As defense minister, Modise oversaw the process of uniting the security forces that defended apartheid and those who sought to overthrow it--a task achieved with mixed success.

When Nelson Mandela handed over the presidency to Thabo Mbeki after five years in office, Modise quit politics to go into business.

Born in Johannesburg in 1929, Modise was active in opposing apartheid from an early age, joining the pro-democracy African National Congress and resisting the forced relocation of black communities from land reserved exclusively for whites.

In 1963, he went into exile to receive military training in Czechoslovakia and Russia.

He oversaw the establishment of military bases in Tanzania, Angola and Uganda, and training programs for young activists in Cuba, Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, China and East Germany.

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