state funeral for struggle veteran

HERO: Cleopas Nsibande. Pic. Unknown
HERO: Cleopas Nsibande. Pic. Unknown

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

A veteran of the liberation struggle will be honoured with a state funeral.

Cleopas Nsibande died last Friday at the Glenwood Hospital in Benoni, Ekurhuleni.

"The office of the president has decided that the funeral of Baba Nsibande be afforded the status and respect of an official funeral in recognition of his contribution to the liberation of the country and the building of democracy," Gauteng provincial government and family spokesman Simon Zwane said yesterday.

He said the flags in the province would fly at half-mast on the day of Nsibande's burial.

Nsibande, 80, had been a member of the ANC for more than 60 years. He was a former confidant of the late ANC president Oliver Tambo.

"In his early days he was a prominent trade unionist and founder of the South African Congress of Trade Unions," Zwane said.

"He was also well known to Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the leader of Inkatha Freedom Party, with whom he served in the ANC Youth League in the 1940s."

Nsibande was instrumental in a campaign mobilising people for the adoption of the Freedom Charter in 1955.

For his trouble he was arrested and charged in the historical 1956 Treason Trial with 155 leaders, among them Albert Luthuli, Nelson Mandela and Tambo.

"After the unbanning of the ANC he continued to work for the liberation movement," Zwane said. "He remained a loyal servant of the people and a principled leader to the end."

He said Nsibande was always in touch with the feelings and views of the people on the ground.

A memorial service is scheduled for the Benoni City Hall tomorrow from 2pm.

Prominent members of the ANC, SACP, Cosatu and the IFP are expected to attend.

Nsibande will be buried on Saturday at the Tamboville Cemetery in Watville.

The funeral service, at the Benoni City Hall, starts at 8am.