He was accorded an official state funeral by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu has been laid to rest in an emotional send-off held at Ackerville township’s Roman Catholic Church in eMalahleni.
While ordinary people were not allowed to pay their last respects due to Covid-19 regulations, hundreds of them came out of their homes to line the streets, braving the pouring rain to bid farewell to the larger than life politician who had had chosen to live among them until his dying day.
Family members couldn’t contain their tears on Sunday morning 24 January 2021 when the cortege arrived at his home.
He died on Thursday 21 January 2021 from Covid-19 related complications
Acting ANC provincial secretary Lindiwe Ntshalintshali and mining minister Gwede Mantashe were program directors of the funeral service at the Catholic church which is where much of Mthembu’s political battles against Apartheid were based.
The Catholic Church in Witbank is said to be where the secret missions of the ANC were taking place in the former Transvaal region, including the sending out of activists to go to exile through the church.
In early 1998, Mthembu mobilised R1 million for the church’s hall to be rebuilt after it was petrol bombed by security police in 1986 for being used for underground meetings.
Deputy president DD Mabuza was one of the dignitaries at the funeral service of the 62-year-old ANC stalwart on Sunday – while Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane gave the welcoming address and Parliamentary speaker Thandi Modise spoke on behalf of Parliament and of the pain of losing Mthembu.
Mthembu had complained of stomach pains and was admitted at the 1Military Hospital in Tshwane on 11 January 2021.
On Thursday afternoon 21 January 2021 President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Mthembu’s death to the shock of the country.
Modise told the mourners that she didn’t just meet Mthembu in Parliament but when she was released from prison in the 1980s she had to run away from her North West home to Mpumalanga and “stayed here a little bit” and that’s when she met and got to know Mthembu.
“Jackson was not only a good leader because he led but because he was also led,” Modise said.
Ramaphosa said South Africa, like many other countries, across the globe had “been plunged into turmoil”.
“We have lost lives to this disease,” the President said to the mourners at the Catholic Church.
“And now the stroke of death has taken the very one who has been our citadel, our rock and our tower of strength at this dreadful moment in our country’s history,” said Ramaphosa during an emotional gathering that strictly observed Covid-19 rules.
“I have lost not just a dependable colleague and a comrade. I have lost a dear friend, and it is a loss I feel most keenly,” the President said.
His daughter Thuli said they learnt a lot from their father’s life.
“You taught us so much without saying anything at all.
“You taught us that hard work and humility are two peas in a pod like prayer and patience. I’m sad that you won’t be teaching this to all our kids,” she said.
(edited by MLM)
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