Norman Mashabane was known as a family man, a gentle giant

Tshenuwani Farisani and Alex Matlala

Tshenuwani Farisani and Alex Matlala

It is difficult to find appropriate words to describe the person in Norman "Fighter" Mashabane .

He was a giant of a man, both in stature and in deeds. It is true he will be known for many things, but we in the Limpopo legislature will remember him for the man he was.

When Mashabane entered a room, or when you met him, there was no way you would not feel his presence. You would not miss him, because he would make sure in no small words that you felt it. He dreamt and slept politics throughout his life.

His detractors knew that when he confronted you on issues, he would not mince his words.

When we lay this giant to rest tomorrow, let's remember his debates in the legislature. A humble man, from humble beginnings, Mashabane rose to greater heights locally, nationally and internationally.

He made strides in liberating his people, making friends and enemies in the process. Those who loved him, know him as a family man and a gentle giant. Those who hated his guts will remember him as a no-nonsense man, who would stop at nothing to stop crime and corruption at its feet.

Internationally, he and his wife Maite made friends for themselves and for South Africa.

The Limpopo legislature has lost a man.

Born Manuel Nyafokeng Norman Mashabane on June 26 1956 in Phalaborwa, he was the third child of Amos Chaiphus and Elinah Mashabane.

He started school at Gaza Lower Primary School and proceeded to Mhalamhala Higher Primary in Phalaborwa. Upon completion, Mashabane attended Mahwahwa Secondary School in Letsitele near Tzaneen.

After matric, he worked for Tubatse Ferro-Chrome in Sekhukhune, Limpopo, where he became involved in workers' political education. He was later elected regional secretary-general of the National Union of Mineworkers.

He became the founding president of the Steelpoort Youth Congress, and was instrumental in the formation and activities of the Namakgale and Phalaborwa youth congresses.

As a result of his political activities, he could not escape being recruited into the underground structure of the ANC.

And this attracted the wrath of the apartheid security.

In the early 1980s, Mashabane underwent military training in the then Soviet Union. In 1990, he was elected into the national leadership of the South African Youth Congress, KaNyamazane branch, in Nelspruit.

He was later appointed South Africa's ambassador to Indonesia.

On his return to the country, he continued to serve the ANC, and was co-opted to serve in the provincial executive committee. At the time of his death, he was serving as a member of the provincial legislature.

Mashabane, who is survived by his wife Maite, his children Kgapane, Setepane, Motlotsi, Lola and Nkomati, will be buried in Phalaborwa tomorrow.

The service at the Phalaborwa Rugby Stadium starts at 7am.

lTshenuwani Farisani is a member of the Limpopo legislature.