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Former Joburg mayor Mpho Moerane's death 'a huge blow'

Colleagues pay tribute to ANC caucus leader

The former Johannesburg mayor Mpho Moerane had been hospitalised at the Netcare Milpark Hospital, where he remained unconscious until his death on Wednesday.
The former Johannesburg mayor Mpho Moerane had been hospitalised at the Netcare Milpark Hospital, where he remained unconscious until his death on Wednesday.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

Former Johannesburg mayor Mpho Moerane's death is a huge blow for local government as he was a committed servant, the ANC says.

Moerane’s family confirmed that the former mayor and ANC leader in Johannesburg has died, exactly a week since his car accident.

He had been in the Netcare Milpark Hospital since last week where he remained unconscious until his death on Wednesday.

“We confirm we lost our beloved Mpho this [Wednesday] afternoon. His passing has saddened us,” family spokesperson Mike Maile said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

Moerane was the ANC caucus leader in Johannesburg, a position he had held since the local government elections in 2021. Moerane was expected to contest the regional chair position at the ANC Johannesburg elective conference next weekend.

He also served a brief stint as mayor of Joburg. He is the third Johannesburg mayor to die in the past year.

He was elected mayor a month before local government elections in November after the death of Jolidee Matongo.

Matongo was also a mayor for a month, having been elected after the death of Geoff Makhubo, who died from Covid-19 complications in July.

Gauteng MEC for human settlements, urban planning and cooperative governance and traditional affairs Lebogang Maile said he was deeply saddened

“We are saddened about Cllr Moerane’s death. This is a huge blow for local government not only in Johannesburg, but provincially as a whole. He was a very disciplined and committed servant, who was dedicated to the service of the people,” Maile said.

The department said Moerane had “distinguished himself as one of the consummate and hardworking public representatives. He was leading a highly effective and servant-orientated opposition in making sure that service delivery reaches Johannesburg’s citizens, especially in poor and working-class communities”.

Former ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza, who grew up with Moerane in Alexandra township, said he was a vibrant young man while the two were part of the ANC Youth League. “What I like about him is that he was unwavering in his decisions. Growing up in an area like Alex where there was lack of development made sense for Mpho to become a political activist.

“He did so to challenge the status quo and defy poor circumstances in Alex. As a mayor, he wanted to change a lot but the issue of land and formalising informal settlements was close to his heart. His death is a great loss.”

Joburg mayor Mpho Phalatse said the news of Moerane’s death left her numb.

“Cllr Moerane, although seated across the aisle of council, was always eager to engage on the development of the city and on how we as leaders in Johannesburg could collectively work to serve the interests of residents because before all else we are servants of the people, not just party-political representatives.  

Bitso [my namesake], as we affectionately used to call each other, will forever hold a  special place in my heart – not just as a colleague but also as someone I called a friend.” 

Chairperson of the SA Local Government Association in Gauteng Jongizizwe Dlabathi said: “We have lost an astute local government representative with solid knowledge of good governance [and] financial management ... he was at the centre of ensuring that local government performs in the manner that responds to the mandate that has been given to us. And it is nothing  else but to ensure that we improve on the quality of life.”

He recalled Moerane's recent fight around the issue of electricity in the City of Joburg, where he was able to bring Eskom closer in trying to find a lasting solution to the issue. 

“We have just concluded our two-day PEC lekgotla and on day one I did express our well wishes and speedy recovery for him. We had hoped from the report that we got that while he was in a critical condition, but he was stabilising. When we closed our lekgotla, I did say that we are pinning our hopes on God, really, to protect him and that he recovers. 

“We will miss his specialised knowledge on matters of energy, he brought better solutions on the electricity interruption in the City of Joburg. In fact, in our deployment of the working groups, we took a conscious decision that he will head one of our working groups that deal with issues of energy. But sadly he has departed.”