Anger over Mkhwanazi’s grave

2013-01-08 00:00

A ROW has erupted over the funeral of PAC stalwart and former KwaZulu-Natal MPL Joe Mkhwanazi, who died of renal failure in Johannesburg on New Year’s Eve.

Although born at Mandlanzini in the Empangeni district, Mkhwanazi’s family decided that he would be buried at Fourways Memorial Park in Johannesburg after his funeral service this Wednesday.

However, this has not gone down well with PAC members in KZN, who were angered and disappointed by the family’s “unilateral” decision.

In a strongly worded statement, PAC stalwart Sipho Shabalala said the funeral should have been discussed by the family and the PAC’s KZN and national leadership in a “cordial, inclusive and respectful atmosphere”.

“This was, however, not the case. The family’s dominant coalition took a unilateral decision with respect to place, date and related matters for the burial of the late Comrade Joe Mkhwanazi. This the PAC members in the province find offending and undermining the integrity of the party and our departed. Young PAC members used to drive Khwani [Mkhwanazi] around when he was alive. Now they are deprived of the honour of burying him in the province in spite of the expressed wish of comrade Joe Mkhwanazi to some members to have him buried at Empangeni,” Shabalala said.

He added that KZN PAC members now find themselves having to explain to leaders of other parties, the provincial government, traditional leaders and others the decision for the funeral to be held in Johannesburg. “Let it be known by Khwani’s family and all those who share the same thinking that PAC members in the province reject the decision and remain aggrieved and disappointed,” Shabalala said.

PAC national chairperson Waters Toboti said the party had no role in making decisions on the funeral.

“The PAC was not consulted on this decision; we are saying the question of a funeral is a family affair.

“Legally, we can’t override the wishes of the family. If they decide it is justifiable or not, it is their indaba,” Toboti said.

He said the PAC sympathised with those who wanted Mkhwanazi to be buried where he was born and where his extended family lived.

“We are under the impression that it was a unanimous family decision. We were just informed that ‘Joe Mkhwanazi, who was your leader, will be buried in Johannesburg’,” he said.

Contacted for comment, Mkhwanazi’s son, Xolani, dismissed Shabalala statements. “He must shut up. We worked with the real PAC, not mediocre characters,” Mkhwanazi said.

“Is he our father or our boss? We don’t recognise his statements,” he said. Mkhwanazi said the family had been interacting with PAC leaders from the day their father died.

“We spoke to PAC leaders two hours after our father died. We consulted with the family and arrived at what we do now. He [Shabalala] should have called us if he had issues,” said Mkhwanazi.

He said senior PAC leaders had no qualms with the funeral arrangements and had attended a memorial service held in Pretoria yesterday.

Another memorial service will be held in Braamfontein tomorrow.

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