‘Sandi would never kill himself’

2011-01-02 15:35

Controversial businessman Sandi Majali’s memorial service on Thursday was a fairly low-key affair.

Some of the well-known dignitaries who attended included ANC national executive committee members Ngoako Ramatlhodi and Billy Masetlha, Deputy Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs Tokozile Xasa, KwaZulu-Natal legislature speaker Peggy Nkonyeni and senior advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza.

A surprise mourner was the embattled Transnet executive, Siyabonga Gama, who sat quietly through the memorial service at the Bryanston Methodist Church.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who had been expected to speak at the ­funeral, did not show up.

During the memorial service projectors beamed images of Majali with some ANC power brokers including former president Thabo Mbeki, President Jacob Zuma, his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, and Justice Minister Jeff Radebe.

Ramatlhodi suggested that some of Majali’s comrades in the ANC had wanted to attend his memorial service “but (were) afraid to be judged in the court of public opinion.

“So they cry silently in small corners, wondering at the foolishness of those of us who dared to come,” he said, without revealing their names.

Masetlha told City Press that Majali’s involvement with the ANC dated back to the liberation struggle era when he used to “feed (ANC) guerillas” who did underground work in Durban.

Masetlha, who earlier addressed mourners on behalf of the ANC, suggested there had been foul play in the his death, saying Majali was a fighter who would never kill himself.

“I know Sandi and I know that Sandi can never kill himself,” he said.

Ramatlhodi intimated as much when he said he hoped that Majali “indeed died of natural causes”.

Some of Majali’s relatives and people from his rural Eastern Cape village said he had been generous and helpful to a lot of needy people back home.

“He died without us ever seeing anything bad about him. He was helpful to a lot of people and Port St Johns as a whole is in pain,” said Zilumko Dlani Majali.

SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union president Esrom Manyana said Majali had not managed to grow his businesses as many businessmen had shied away from dealing with him because of the bad press he had attracted.

Speaking to City Press, Majali’s one-time lawyer, Barry Aaron, described his former client as “a fallen angel” whose dreams were never ­fulfilled.

Aaron had known Majali for more than 15 years and represented him in the Oilgate scandal, but said they had drifted apart more than a year ago.

“Conceptually he had good ideas, but it always seemed to fall down.

“He was a very clever man but ­never really managed to get anything off the ground.

“His heart and head were in the right place; that is why I call him a fallen angel”. – Additional reporting by Erna van Wyk

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