The community of Ackerville in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, bid a final farewell to one of its own on Sunday.
Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, succumbed to COVID-19 on Thursday.
While the number of those attending the anti-apartheid activist’s burial was limited due to the country’s COVID-19 restrictions, which allow only up to 50 people, some residents braved the rain and lined-up the streets to see Mthembu’s funeral procession off.
The 62-year-old has touched the hearts of many South Africans as he still stayed in the township and his wife continued working as a nurse despite the Minister’s status, something described as rare in South Africa’s political landscape.
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the eulogy in church.
He said Mthembu was a principled and humble man.
To him – Ramaphosa said – the Minister was more than a colleague and a comrade.
Ramaphosa says the Minister’s death has left a void both in government and his political home, the governing African National Congress (ANC).
Mthembu was born in Mpumalanga, 62 years ago.
He was a student leader in the 70s and rose through the ranks of the ANC – serving as the national spokesperson of the party during the Mandela administration.
He went on to become the party’s Chief Whip in Parliament during the Zuma era and was appointed as the Minister in the Presidency after the 2019 general elections.
Most South Africans who have crossed paths with him have said they will remember him for his humility, sense of humour, professionalism and forthrightness.