Officer with a good sense of humour

Sibongile Khumalo

Sibongile Khumalo

Benedicta Busisiwe Buthelezi, who died on November 13, will be remembered for ensuring, with her sense of humour, that her comrades in exile were never homesick.

Sasa, as she was popularly known in the ranks of the ANC, was born on May 22 1954 in Alexandra.

She arrested for her participation in the 1976 upheavals.

Shortly after her release she skipped the country to receive military training.

Like others whose children fled the country, her mother, Innocentia Ramohanoe, did not have a clue where her daughter was.

Buthelezi worked closely with the likes of Tokyo Sexwale, Naledi Tsiki and Jacob Seahlolo.

She received military training in Angola and Cuba. After the training Buthelezi became a regional commander.

She also served as regional secretary of the women's section of the Department of Information and Propaganda in Lusaka.

Buthelezi served on the editorial board of The Voice of Women, a publication under the leadership of Getrude Shope and Mavivi Manzini.

In 1985 she became a regional intelligence officer in Lesotho, a post she held until 1990. She then went to Zimbabwe, pursuing her intelligence work, and also working as a journalist for Zimbabwe's Broadcasting Corporation until 1990.

In 1993 she returned to South Africa and became a media liaison officer for MK's joint military coordination committee, which was preparing for a new defence force. After the integration of Umkhonto we Sizwe into the SANDF she was appointed a major in the army.

To many exiled children and colleagues she was a loving friend and mother.

Ben Lekalake, who was in exile with her, described her faith and loyalty to the liberation movement as "never faltering". Lekalake said Buthelezi had a special connection with ordinary people.

She is survived by her mother, four children and siblings.

She will be buried on Sunday at Thaba Tshwane Cemetery. The service will start at 8am at the Thaba Tshwane City Hall.