A mourning Max Sisulu arrives at his mother’s house

2011-06-03 11:10

Speaker in Parliament Max Sisulu arrived at the home of his mother, Albertina, in Linden, Johannesburg, today as streams of visitors paid their tributes to her.

He joined his sister Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to mourn their mother, who died at the age of 92 while watching television last night.

Dali Tambo, the son of Oliver Tambo, was among those who arrived to comfort the family.

“She [Sisulu] gave me unconditional love,” he said outside.

“She called me her son and I called her mom ... She was dearly loved.”

Tambo said his mother, Adelaide Tambo, had a special relationship with Albertina Sisulu.

He said Albertina Sisulu would be welcomed at the “pearly gates” of heaven by his mother and other struggle icons who had died before her.

Both Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu were former presidents of the ANC.

Tambo died in 1993 and Sisulu in 2003.

Albertina Sisulu was 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 struggles of women and the struggles of 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 a relative told the media there would be a prayer meeting there every night between 6pm and 7pm.

“We need to get all the important people in her life her so we can arrange the funeral,” he said.

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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