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Former anti-apartheid activist Billy Nair was laid to rest yesterday in a dignified state funeral attended by President Kgalema Motlanthe, ANC president Jacob Zuma, SACP general-secretary Blade Nzimande, Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini, MPs, MECs and throngs of ANC and alliance supporters.
Addressing mourners, Motlanthe described Nair as a dedicated cadre, patriot and a true son of the soil.
He said that throughout his life, Nair had stood for equality and justice for all.
Nair was involved in politics from the days of the Defiance Campaign to the adoption of the Freedom Charter and right up to the formation of trade unions such as Cosatu , said Motlanthe.
"He understood that leadership does not mean to be in power. He knew that the success of the congress rested on unity."
"He respected other people, regardless of their positions and I think we should remember him like that."
Hitting out at the ANC defectors ahead of tomorrow's Shikota convention, Motlanthe said Nair was a typical example of a dedicated member of the ANC and would never have defected.
"Billy would never have left the ANC and the alliance.
"He would have remained true to the party no matter what, and we need people like him in the movement."
Motlanthe said the developments within the ANC needed leaders and members of Nair's calibre.
"He belonged to the generation of noble human beings. He was a member of the collective and would never go alone," he said.
ANC president Jacob Zuma said Nair was the embodiment of the alliance.
He said Nair had dedicated 58 years of his life to the liberation of black people.
"There comes a time in every revolution where the sun has to set, and when it does, soldiers must use words to describe it.
"We do not need to mumble about Billy as his life was straight-forward, dedicated to the services of the people and the struggle."
Among those who attended the funeral were IFP MP Narend Singh and Nair's many friends and family.