The cold and wet Gauteng weather did not deter the hundreds of mourners who came out to commemorate the lives of their ANC comrades and loved ones who died in a bus crash.
Dressed in their green, gold and black finery, the mourners were spirited as they sang and chanted revolutionary songs and slogans in honour of their departed comrades.
The mourners converged on Vosloorus for the memorial service of the 10 ANC volunteers, who died on their way from the party’s local government manifesto launch in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
Apart from the ANC’s senior leaders and their comrades from the Tripartite Alliance, ordinary members and supporters of the party came to give their support.
Among the political elite present were ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, treasurer Zweli Mkhize, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Ekurhuleni mayor Mondli Gungubele as well as Chris Hani’s widow Limpho.
The programme was divided into two parts, with the early part of the afternoon dedicated to tributes delivered by the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased.
The second part was dedicated to tributes by leaders of the ANC and its alliance partners. Although the service was initially scheduled for 2pm, it began shortly after 3pm and ran into the evening.
Words such as “hard-working”, “dedicated to the ANC” and “selfless” were used to describe the dead.
The youngest victim, Scelo Kheswa, a Grade 11 learner at OR Tambo Secondary School in Katlehong, was described as a future leader who was concerned about the social ills in his community.
Scelo, who was also a member of the Congress of South African Students Congress (Cosas) in Ekurhuleni, was described as an invaluable comrade in the region.
“Whenever we had meetings, comrade Scelo always raised important points. We are going to continue running the race he began,” said a Cosas speaker.
Among the mourners was Thakane Ntsilo, the sister of one of the deceased, Tiisetso Ntsilo. She said her brother was very close to her, and his death had affected her greatly.
“My family needed me to be tough at this time because I understand ANC things. But it has been hard for me. I have tried to be strong, but the closer we get to the funeral, the harder it gets,” Thakane said.
Pupils from OR Tambo Secondary School rendered revolutionary songs that kept the spirits of the mourners high. In some cases, the hymns moved some of the mourners to tears.
So moving were the songs in their messages that some of the mourners fainted and had to be attended to by paramedics.
A surprise performance by acclaimed gospel musician Hlengiwe Mhlaba had the crowd on their feet.
Dressed in ANC colours, Mhlaba told the audience not to be surprised to see her in party colours. “Who said if you’re politically active, the Holy Spirit will not come to you?” she said, speaking in isiZulu.
Mhlaba told religious leaders not just to encourage their congregants to be spiritual, but to also become aware and politically involved.[Source: The Star]