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ANC pays tribute to Winkie Direko

2012-02-22 14:41

Bloemfontein - Former Free State premier Winkie Direko surrendered her life to the service of the country, ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga said on Wednesday.

"We shall always remember and be guided by her political wisdom and discipline, which were the hallmarks of her service to the people," he said.

"It is painful to lose a stalwart of such highest calibre, a truly compassionate, committed and courageous servant. For us who had the privilege of working closely with her, she was our elder, a mother from whom we learned a great deal."

The North West branch of the ANC said Direko was a caring person who educated several ANC leaders.

"We have known Mme [Madame] Direko as a caring leader, mother and grandmother. She was very passionate about education and development in particular," provincial secretary Kabelo Mataboge said.

"She taught a number of ANC leaders during her career as a teacher and made a point of reminding them of this fact from time to time... She was fondly called 'mistress' by many leaders she moulded from a young age."

Direko, 82, died of a stroke on Friday. She was admitted to the Universitas Netcare hospital in Bloemfontein after complaining that she felt ill.

She was born in 1929 in Botshabelo, Bloemfontein. She was a member of the National Council of Provinces from 1994 to 1999 and premier of the Free State from 15 June 1999 until 26 April 2004.

Direko was the Free State's third premier.