hundreds pay tribute to visionary Motlana

GREATLY MISSED: Mourners at Nthato Motlana's memorial in Soweto yesterday. 04/12/08. Pic. Thobeka Magcai. © Unknown.
GREATLY MISSED: Mourners at Nthato Motlana's memorial in Soweto yesterday. 04/12/08. Pic. Thobeka Magcai. © Unknown.

Two pigeons soared from above the crucifix in Soweto's Regina Mundi Church yesterday when hundreds of mourners remembered anti-apartheid activist Nthato Motlana.

Two pigeons soared from above the crucifix in Soweto's Regina Mundi Church yesterday when hundreds of mourners remembered anti-apartheid activist Nthato Motlana.

Motlana died from cancer on Sunday.

The grey birds rose against rays of light streaming through the church's stained-glass windows as the choir's voices rang out in tribute to the doctor the people loved.

In the front pew, with his family, were former president Nelson Mandela, his wife Graça Machel at his side.

A few feet away former president Thabo Mbeki and his wife Zanele comforted other grieving members of the Motlana family.

"We have not reached our destination unless we've taken people less fortunate than us on our journey," the pew leaflet quoted from Motlana's extensive body of work.

"Accept the soul of your humble servant, he who served your people selflessly, he who was a leader while on earth," said Bishop Buti Tlhagale.

Motlana had left an indelible mark on the country, businessman Richard Maponya said.

Maponya called on Sowetans to honour Motlana by naming a suburb after him.

"If I had a magic wand, powerful influence ... I would name Diepkloof Ga (place of) Motlana," he said.

Diepkloof was the location of Motlana's first 24-hour surgery.

Among the mourners who attended the memorial service were SA Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni, businessman Tokyo Sexwale, Judge Edward Cameron, Advocate George Bizos, and Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo, who also delivered a eulogy.

Motlana is survived by his wife Zanele and his ex-wife Sally.

Born on February 16 1925, Motlana will be buried tomorrow. The funeral service will be held at the Wits Great Hall from 9am. - Sapa

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