Ronnie Mamoepa hailed by SA society

2017-07-23 20:06
Spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. (GCIS)

Spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. (GCIS)

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Johannesburg - The late struggle activist and government spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa on Sunday was hailed for his service to the country and warm spirit by various sectors of society.

"Comrade Ronnie Mamoepa has left us too soon. Much of his wisdom was still expected from him during these trying and difficult times facing our movement," said the African National Congress in a statement.

"It remains incumbent on us all to continue to preserve, promote and emulate his legacy of excellence in selfless and dedicated service."

Mamoepa, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's spokesperson, died on Saturday night at the age of 56, following complications from a stroke he suffered in June.

The ANC said that Mamoepa had proven himself a "distinguished communications commissar who served our movement and the government it leads with humility, diligence and excellence".

He served in the ANC’s department of information and publicity following the unbanning of the ANC.

After 1994, he joined government and served as spokesperson in various capacities, including for the then foreign affairs department, as well as the Department of Home Affairs.

'Loving husband'

The party also described how Mamoepa was a "proud and loving husband and father" and sent their thoughts and prayers to his family.

Also paying tribute to Mamoepa from the political realm were Parliament, the Gauteng government and opposition parties, Cope, the Democratic Alliance as well as the Economic Freedom Fighters.

"The loss, so soon, of such a true people's servant, a faithful, fearless and uncompromising activist for social justice, equality and fairness is devastating," said Parliament in a statement.

Describing Mamoepa as a "brilliant political mind, organic intellectual and quintessential soul", it also praised him as a "consummate professional".

Ramaphosa on Sunday told journalists in Welkom that he saw Mamoepa three hours before his passing away "and we knew then that he was not going to make it".

"We are very very saddened with Ronnie's passing, I feel it very personally," added Ramaphosa.

'Tower of strength'

He described the veteran spokesperson as a "tower of strength from a communications point of view" who assisted several ministers and leaders in the Presidency.

"Ronnie was one of those people from a communications point of view was full of life, easy to approach and communication was in his blood," said Ramaphosa.

Cope President Mosiuoa Lekota shared personal memories of Mamoepa during his time on Robben Island. At just 18, Mamoepa was convicted for terrorism in 1980 – thereafter being sent to the notorious apartheid-era jail.

"We knew Ronnie in Robben Island as a young star. He was a bright and disciplined young man who was always keen to learn."

Lekota said that Mamoepa had inspired many.

"I am truly saddened by his passing away so soon and at the prime time of his life."

Meanwhile, Gauteng Premier David Makhura extended the provincial’s government’s "heartfelt condolences" on the occasion of Mamoepa’s death.

The Democratic Alliance also expressed gratitude for Mamoepa’s "commendable work as a public servant.

“He was the personification of excellence,” said the party.

Humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers also reminisced about Mamoepa as a “humble, honourable human being who cared so much for the poor and those in difficulty”.

"He would call desperately for assistance for people in distress, 'this lady's house just burnt... this family is so hungry... these children need school fees...'; never asking for personal favours,” said the organisation’s founder Imtiaaz Sooliman.

Mamoepa was a man with a heart “so pure,” said Sooliman, adding that when they spoke recently, Mamoepa, despite his ill health, was in a “jovial” mood.

'We will miss you'

Finally, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, celebrated Mamoepa’s association with Mandela, saying they had met on Robben Island.

"Mamoepa was one of the new arrivals of young prisoners in 1980 when they encountered Mandela and his comrades who had been there for sixteen years."

Describing Mamoepa as a man of "engaging warmth, generosity of spirit and passion for his work", the organisation simply declared: "We will miss you."

Family spokesperson Groovin Nchabeleng said the family was still in shock.

"We are still in shock as we come to terms with the passing away of our brother, father and uncle last night at Unitas Hospital." He said the family were thankful for the support, condolences and messages of comfort.

The Mamoepa family will be holding a prayer service on Sunday from 16:00 until 18:00.

There will be a prayer session every day from Monday 18:00 to 19:00.

The family would on Monday announce details of the memorial service, Nchabeleng said.

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