Lepotane, John (d1924)

Note: This obituary of a native minister in South Africa contains language with colonial overtones that is considered offensive by modern standards.

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference by George Ayre

In the passing of John Lepotane the Aliwal North Circuit lost a native minister who would have done credit to any Church. He was trained in the Native Institute under the Rev. Geo. E. Butt and from the first showed signs of promise. After his training was completed he was given charge of Wepener and the out-stations on the Basutoland border. He was eighty-eight miles away from his superintendent who could only visit the area very occasionally, but from the first showed signs of capacity for leadership. He travelled hundreds of miles and organised the work in fine fashion. 

Mr. Dykman, the Town Clerk, acted as treasurer for that district and formed a high opinion of John and his work, so much so that he threw himself into the native work and often preached to our native congregations. After twelve years work as Teaching Evangelist, John Lepotane was recommended for the ministry and worked with such energy at his studies that he received high marks in each year of his probation.

John Lepotane was descended from a chief’s family in Basutoland, and was splendidly equipped mentally and physically. He had a commanding presence, a beautiful voice and a genial nature. He was wise in administration and his judgments were seldom at fault. His loyalty to his church and his love for its ministers was very marked. His sense of humour helped him out of many a difficult situation, and his natural caution made him a safe guide and a trusted adviser to his own people.

Lepotane was a fine preacher with a quaint aptitude for illustration. He always lit up a subject, and it was interesting to watch the faces of his audience as he spoke to them. He could hold and sway them as very few men could, and was almost equally at home with Sesuto, Xosa, Dutch or English. 

He died in the prime of his life and Primitive Methodism lost a great soul when he was called home, and the whole of Aliwal North Station was thrown into deep sorrow at the news of his passing. He was a fine example of what the religion of Jesus Christ can do in the heart and life of a native. It is an honour to have known him and worked with him. Could he have visited the churches of this land he would have thrilled our congregations. 

John was a faithful colleague and friend, a true minister of Jesus Christ and an ornament to the Church. The call came quickly. Blood poisoning spread rapidly through his system and laid him low. He lived well, worked hard and rests in Jesus. the Saviour he loved and served with all his powers.


I have not been able to identify any family information in online records.


  • 1913 Jamestown
  • 1914 Wepener


PM Minutes 1924/275

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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