Obituary: Former Msunduzi mayor Gwala

2013-09-12 00:00

FORMER Msunduzi mayor and Popcru co-founder, Siphiwe Gwala, lost his battle with cancer at St Anne’s Hospital yesterday morning.

Lindiwe ‘Wake’ Xulu, a spokesperson for his family, said Gwala was diagnosed with prostate cancer and while he had received treatment some time ago, he never fully recovered.

Gwala, who was born in 1948 in Esigodini, became mayor after Omar Latiff resigned in the late nineties.

Xulu said he would want to be remembered as a person who came from a humble background and worked for the nation as an activist in social and political life.

She said he was a loving, selfless, humble man who respected everyone. “As the mayor, he had equal respect for everyone, from cleaners and security personnel at the municipality, to those in influential positions.”

Like so many of his peers, Gwala became an activist in response to his experience of racism, she said.

He qualified with a certificate in psychiatric nursing from Madadeni Hospital College in Newcastle in 1971.

He worked in this field for 10 years, before changing career by completing a diploma in general nursing, arts and science in 1983 at Edendale College of Nursing.

This career change saw him find his way into the prison service in 1985 to work in the hospital in the old Pietermaritzburg prison in Burger Street.

He then studied at Unisa and did his Bachelor’s Degree where his majors were Sociology and Criminology. He also did his Honours degree at Unisa and majored in Criminology. He did a diploma in Marketing Management with the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

He was also a founder of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) in 1989.

He received his earlier education at eSigodini Primary School, and then went on to Edendale Secondary School, but completed his matric at Nkamane High School.

He had been a staunch member of the African National Congress from an early age, said Xulu.

He also worked as chairperson of the community policing forum before moving up to Gauteng, where he worked as an adviser to local government.

He leaves his wife Thembi MaNgcobo Gwala, four children and great-grandchildren. Gwala’s funeral will be held at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall at 9 am on Sunday (September 15) and the funeral will proceed to Mountain Rise, where he will be buried.

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