Big send-off for ANC's Phadagi
MINISTER in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Collins Chabane and other political leaders, including Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale, paid glowing tributes to ANC stalwart George Phadagi in Tswinga at the weekend.
Phadagi, a former Limpopo MEC for safety and security, was buried after a funeral service at the Tswinga sports ground.
The funeral was attended by thousands of mourners, who included the late leader's comrades from the 80s and 90s.
Phadagi was born in 1952 at Tswinga village.
He became a founding member and vice-president of the United Democratic Front-aligned Northern Transvaal Action Committee in 1985.
Phadagi also served as the chairperson of the UDF in the Far North region and later became one of the members of the ANC interim leadership core after the unbanning of the organisation and the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990.
Chabane represented President Jacob Zuma at the special official funeral. He told mourners that he met Phadagi in 1990 after he was released from Robben Island.
Chabane conveyed condolences on behalf of the ANC national executive committee and the government to the provincial government and the community of Tswinga.
He said Phadagi played a big role in the formation of ANC branches in the Vhembe area.
"He was one of dedicated comrades who reintroduced the ANC after it's unbanning," said Chabane, who also described Phadagi as a "soft spoken leader, ever smiling, deep thinking and slow speaking."
Chabane said the Vhembe district produced gallant Umkhonto weSizwe fighters such as David Malada, who was known as Comrade Dambuza, the late George Ramudzuli and Peter Ravhambelani.
"It is with deep sorrow that we mourn this gallant fighter, just after the death of Comrade Sicelo Shiceka," Chabane said.
He urged new leaders in the ANC to take their cue from "this disciplined and focused ANC comrade".
Mathale thanked President Jacob Zuma for giving Phadagi a special official funeral.
Limpopo MEC for arts and culture Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba said Phadagi became a member of the ANC "when it was not fashionable to do so. Nowadays it is fashionable to be a member of the ANC because of the benefits associated with our party".
Former ANC regional chairman Falaza Mdaka described Phadagi as a "selfless revolutionary and a unifier".
Top Limpopo leaders, especially those who cut their political teeth in the early 80s, attended the funeral.
Among the bigwigs were Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Richard Baloyi, Free State MEC for safety and security Butana Komphela and chief whip of the Limpopo legislature Jan Tsiane.
A host of "comrades", who had brushed shoulders with Phadagi during the liberation struggle were also in attendance.
They included ANC veterans Pharaphara Motupi, Calvin Mutheiwana, Peter Maake, MacDonald Netshitenzhe, Phumudzo Rapeya, Dick Ralushai, Dr Rendani Mashapa, Shumani Razwiedani, Speedo Dali, Magwedzha Mphaphuli, Snowy Mudau, Themba Maluleke, Joe Mathebula, Joe Maswanganyi, Rodwell Mashaba and Peter Maake.
After the funeral service and burial, Phadagi's tombstone was unveiled.
A memorial service for Phadagi had been held on Thursday at the Thohoyandou Townhall.