Chief Justice’s wife laid to rest

2009-09-05 13:30

CHIEF Justice Pius Langa’s wife, Thandekile, was laid to rest in

Durban yesterday with the kind of dignity and grace that personified her


More than a thousand mourners including senior judges, politicians

and members of her church attended the burial.

Thandekile was buried at the Redhill cemetery, this after a service

at the Methodist church in Durban north.

Langa (65) passed away last Sunday after a long battle with

Parkinson’s disease. She was described by judge Langa’s younger brother, Mandla,

as a soft-spoken woman who was a pillar of strength behind the chief


Mandla told mourners how Thandekile kept the family together during

turbulent times of the 1980s when the husband was in exile and was in and out of


“She led us from behind and guided us through difficult times. She

was a mother, a sister and a disciplinarian,” said Mandla.

Politicians who attended the funeral included the country’s Deputy

President Kgalema Motlanthe, Justice and Constitutional Development minister,

Jeff Radebe, Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele, ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete and

former chief justice Arthur Chaskalson.

Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke described Thandekile as a

strong woman who stood behind chief justice for the past 40 years of


There were messages of condolences from prominent South Africans

including former president Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and

chief justices of Namibia, Lesotho and Malawi.

Radebe praised Langa’s bravery saying while he went about

performing his duties little was noticed that his wife was suffering from

Parkinson’s disease at home.

Thandekile was born in 1944 in Pietermaritzburg and was trained as

a nurse. She worked for Edendale Hospital before moving on to work at several

hospitals in Shakaville, Stanger and Durban.

“She epitomised humanity. Whatever little she had she made sure

that she would share it with us. She was a quality woman who became a pillar of

strength to her family,” said Thandi Phoswa, a family friend.

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