A conscientious leader

Monk Nkomo

Monk Nkomo

People often fear death as something dark, while others accept it as an inevitability.

On his death bed, former Atteridgeville mayor Zebulon Zachariah Mashao hardly flinched when that hour came.

He summoned all his children to his bedside and told them about his imminent departure from this life.

He had even left a letter with the pick of the hymns to be sung at his funeral.

"Please release me. I am ready to go," the grey-haired community leader pleaded with his children and grandchildren, a few hours before he passed on last week Monday after a long illness.

Earlier, he had asked one of his children, Nomea, to call the church minister to come and pray for him. After praying with him on Saturday he again called his children and said: "Please consider my request. I appreciate everything you have done for me. Pray for my release. I am more than ready to go."

He died in his sleep on Monday night aged 78 - two months after the death of his wife, Lillian.

And so the road came to an end for "Uncle Z".

His daughter Nomea said her parents were very close.

"My father bid us goodbye. He left, having made peace with his God and himself."

Born in Marabastad, Pretoria, on May 4 1930, Mashao was a community leader who served as a mayor and councillor in Atteridgeville during the early 1980s. He was also president of the Atteridgeville-Saulsville Chamber of Commerce and deputy president of the Southern Transvaal Chamber of Commerce. He served on several Nafcoc committees and was elected the first chairman of the Nafcoc housing committee from 1982 to 1992.

He was also a church elder of the Evangelical Luthern Church. He served on several local school committees as well.

Mashao will be best remembered as one of the councillors who, led by the late mayor Joe Tshabalala, resigned en masse in the early 1980s in protest against the government's decision to declare the nearby Lotus Gardens an Indian residential area.

He was buried in Atteridgeville yesterday.