Kotane comes home to Pella

2015-03-15 15:00

Rebecca Kotane (103) looked frail but relieved as her late husband Moses was finally laid to rest in his home village.

She sat silently in a wheelchair watching as her struggle-hero husband’s coffin was off-loaded from a hearse during a reburial ceremony in Pella, North West, yesterday.

It was the end of a 36-year wait for the Kotane family. The ANC and SA Communist Party (SACP) veteran died in exile at the age of 72 and was buried in Moscow in the then Soviet Union in 1978.

He was buried in the same cemetery as his comrade, JB Marks, who is due to be reburied in Ventersdorp next week.

Both men have been given official funerals by government after their remains were repatriated from Russia.

Pella, which is about 45km from Zeerust, came to a standstill during the funeral, which was attended by President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, former president Kgalema Motlanthe and a number of ministers, diplomats and other politicians.

From beneath a tombstone in Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery, Kotane has now been buried alongside relatives in his home town.

In his speech, Zuma took a swipe at the ongoing public squabbles within the tripartite alliance.

Describing Kotane, who was general secretary of the SACP when he died, as a “colossal leader”, Zuma said he was also “not an armchair revolutionary”.

“There are people who spend their energy criticising, every day,” said Zuma.

Kotane and Marks, he said, were “not confrontational”, but were strategic.

“They did not go for the man. They went for the ball,” he said.

After touching on Kotane’s role as a unionist, Zuma turned his attention to the troubles in labour federation Cosatu.

“If you are a unionist and you become too much of a politician, you don’t have time to deal with factory floor issues.”

Zuma called Kotane a hero, fighter, teacher and commissar, administrator and outstanding revolutionary.

He urged young South Africans to take lessons from Kotane’s life and contribution to the struggle through his leadership qualities and style.

“Kotane was a hard worker, which earned him positions of leadership. Through him we want to inspire the youth to work hard and rise through the ranks of leadership.”

And while Rebecca Kotane looked on quietly from her wheelchair, Zuma concluded: “May his soul finally rest in eternal peace.”

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