Albertina Sisulu to be given ‘national official special’ funeral

2011-06-03 12:51

Albertina Sisulu will receive a national official special funeral, the Presidency has said.

“She [Sisulu] will be given a national official special funeral.

A team is sorting out the logistics,” Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said outside Sisulu’s home in Linden, northwestern Joburg.

Sisulu died there at the age of 92 last night.

The decision on her funeral was made by President Jacob Zuma in consultation with the Sisulu family, said Chabane.

He said she would not receive a state funeral, as this was reserved for presidents and former presidents.

National special official funerals were permissible for deputy presidents, ministers, and certain officials and individuals.

Chabane visited the Sisulu family to pass on condolences on behalf of the Cabinet.

Albertina Sisulu’s second eldest son Lungi Sisulu said the family was “faring well”.

He said: “It’s been very hard. We are still trying to soak it in.

We were blessed that she lived to the age that she did.”

Her husband Walter Sisulu, a former ANC president, died in 2003.

Lungi said his mother had wanted to “follow the old man” but she gave the family another eight years.

“We are happy she went peacefully. She was not in pain and it was quick.”

He had fond memories of his mother. “She was always loving,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Speaker in Parliament Max Sisulu and his sister Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu arrived at their mother’s house.

Dali Tambo, the son of Oliver Tambo, was among those who were there to pay her tribute.

“She [Sisulu] gave me unconditional love. She called me her son and I called her mom. She was dearly loved,” he said outside.

Tambo said Sisulu would be welcomed at the “pearly gates” of heaven by his mother Adelaide Tambo, with whom she had a special relationship, and the other struggle icons who had died before her.

Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu were former presidents of the ANC. Tambo died in 1993.

Albertina Sisulu was herself a deputy president of the ANC Women’s League.

She was also a nurse and a midwife, and took part in the formation of the United Democratic Front, the anti-pass march to the Union Buildings in 1956 and the launch of the Freedom Charter.

“She was truly the mother of the nation,” said Tambo.

In a statement, the ANC said she epitomised the struggles of the poor, the women and the disenfranchised.

Not only had the family lost her, but the country had lost an irreplaceable leader.

“She embodied grace and humility,” the ANC said.

Sisulu’s grandson Shaka Sisulu, who tweeted memories of his grandmother throughout the morning, also arrived at the house.

“Thanks to all ur messages of love and support.

My condolences go out to u all as well, she truly was everyone’s ma, gogo or koko. God Bless,” he wrote in a tweet.

Former Methodist bishop and Congress of the People president Mvume Dandala told reporters: “We are all cut up.

We came to offer the family our prayers.” He asked that all South Africans pray for the family.

Former communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane and Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane were also present.

Mokonyane described Sisulu as her mentor and said the best way to honour her would be to preserve the freedom to which she had contributed.

Walter Sisulu’s former personal assistant Rica Hodgson said: “She was marvellous.

She was a wonderful wife to Walter. She was so devoted.”

A load of plastic chairs was delivered to the house shortly after Lungi Sisulu told the media there would be a prayer meeting there every night between 6pm and 7pm.

Earlier, family and neighbours brought out snacks and coffee for the media and portable toilets were set up.

Meanwhile, people arrived at the gates to deliver flowers and food to the family.


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