Obituary: ‘Kebby Maphatsoe strongly believed in God’

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Obituary: 'Kebby Maphatsoe strongly believed in God'
FALLEN SOLDIER: ANC Member and MKMVA president Kebby Maphatsoe passed on still fighting for his fellow comrades as he had done before in exile. PICTURE BY City Press

He died at his home in Johannesburg Tuesday 31 August 2021 at age 59.


MKMVA leader and parliamentarian Kebby Maphatsoe was a church-goer and a strong believer in God, one of his ANC comrades said.

He led the Saint John Church in Johannesburg as its bishop.

“We who believe in Jesus Christ know that beyond death is life everlasting,” NEC member Bongani Bongo told Newzroom Afrika.

“We would like to send our condolences to his family and the church because we know that he was a strong believer in Christ,” Bongo told news anchor Stephan Grootes.

Maphatsoe, who led a political career as former President Jacob Zuma’s staunch defender, died of a heart attack in his sleep at his Meyersdal home in Alberton, east of Johannesburg.

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He was the President of the MKMVA and a former deputy minister of defence between 2014 to 2019.

The MKMVA president had also been a municipal councillor in Johannesburg for 8 years, starting from 2000.

Maphatsoe’s political career begins in the 1970s when he became involved in the anti-apartheid struggles of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) as a student.

He escaped the country soon after the 1976 Soweto uprising, Maphatsoe was one of the activists who were being sought by Apartheid security forces.

He was exiled in Angola and Uganda where he joined the ANC and received training in military operations.

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ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina said death had robbed the ANC of a dedicated, “loyal and patriotic freedom fighter, a robust and fearless legislator and a capable leader“. 

He was going to turn 59 years old on 31 December 2021. He was born Emmanuel Ramaotoane Maphatsoe.

MKMVA leader and parliamentarian Kebby Maphatsoe died at the age of 59. PIC SowetanLIVE

The MKMVA was recently disbanded by an ANC NEC resolution, accused of being a factional tool defending Zuma.

They have defied the disbandment, saying that they will continue as a structure and that the ANC does not have the legal and political ground to disband the association.

The association’s spokesman Carl Niehaus said a “malicious” lie about Maphatsoe led to people believing that he lost his right arm while running away from an ANC military camp in exile.

“The truth of the matter is that he was trying to bring the difficult conditions that prevailed in the MK camps in Uganda, and elsewhere, to the attention of the senior leaders of the ANC. 

Maphatsoe leaving the MK camp in Uganda was not an act of desertion, but a courageous act of care and concern for his fellow comrades, and the conditions that they were suffering under, in some of the MK camps. This care and concern for his fellow comrades are what characterized comrade Kebby Maphatsoe throughout his life,” Niehaus said.

Bongo said Maphatsoe, who also was a whip for the Parliamentary committee of sports and culture, was expected to show up in Parliament on the day he passed away and preside over the committee meeting but unfortunately couldn’t.