Mapantsula is a 1988 South African crime film directed by Oliver Schmitz and written by Schmitz and Thomas Mogotlane. It tells the story of Johannes 'Panic' Themba Mzolo (Mogotlane), a small-time thief, set against the backdrop of Apartheid. The film's use of flashbacks between Panic's time at the hands of his apartheid jailor 'Stander' (Marcel Van Heerden) and happenings in the Johannesburg township of Soweto display the injustices black South Africans suffered during apartheid and their struggle for suffrage. The film makes extensive use of political rallies, police brutality, and racial difference to example the effects of apartheid on black South Africans. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival. The film was selected as the South African entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 62nd Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.


Mapantsula begins with cut-scenes between a heated protest and several police vehicles transporting apprehended black South Africans. There is a voice in the background saying that they have violated the Internal Security Act by gathering without permission and inciting a riot. Here we first see Panic who is herded with the rest of the prisoners, including women and children. He is put in a cell with eight other men.