The sudden death of former Greater Germiston mayor councillor Mhlahleki Kaifus Sambo, 57, has left a void that will be very hard to fill.
"Impisi", as Sambo liked to call himself, was not an ordinary councillor, he was a leader par excellence. A gentleman and squire.
His death at the Brenthurst Clinic in Johannesburg on Friday after a long illness, has sent shock waves through the community he served so diligently.
A mature and eloquent debater, Sambo was a rare breed of public servant who always went beyond the call of duty to serve his people.
My interactions with the late Sambo, both as a journalist and resident, dates back to the days of the transitional government, when he was among the ANC cadres voted into office as first black mayors of towns on the East Rand.
The transition and the responsibilities that came with these new positions were littered with challenges that they had to take head-on. They had to hit the ground running and when service delivery was not fast enough, residents took to the streets in protest.
Sambo and others soon found themselves in the firing line. Sambo and his fellow councillors laid a solid foundation for others to easily slot into the same positions.
He began his political career in 1969 when he was expelled from Orhoveni High School for trying to set up a student representative forum.
In 1975 he successfully organised workers to join Numsa. A co-founder of the Katlehong crisis committee, he was also involved in the rent boycott in Katlehong in 1990.
The same year, at the launch of Sanco in the area, he was elected deputy chairman. He also became deputy chairman of the Katlehong branch of the ANC in 1996.
Ekurhuleni executive mayor Duma Nkosi this week paid tribute to Sambo.
"This is a major shock and loss to the municipality, the people of Ekurhuleni and South Africa," he said.
Sambo was a hard-working leader who will be hard to replace. He will be buried in Thulamahashe, Bushbuckridge, tomorrow.