Death of IFP stalwart Celani Mtetwa

2008-07-17 00:00

The Reverend Celani Mtetwa, a veteran Inkatha Freedom Party leader, died yesterday aged 82.

Mtetwa, one of the founding members of the party, was admitted to hospital in Dundee on Wednesday after suffering a stroke, the party said.

Described as a “private person”, Mtetwa was born in Msinga in 1926 and finished standard eight in Johannesburg in 1945.

After that he worked as clerk for the Johannesburg city Health Department. In 1974, he was appointed executive councillor for Justice in Johannesburg.

In 1976, he was appointed Justice minister in the KwaZulu government.

Following the first democratic elections in 1994, Mtetwa was appointed MEC for police in KwaZulu-Natal. One of his main tasks was to oversee the unification of the KwaZulu police and the SA police.

Following a cabinet reshuffle in 1995 Mtetwa was appointed MEC for Public Works, a position he held until May 2003. He was still a member of the legislature at the time of his death.

Mtetwa was no stranger to controversy, as he was implicated in hit squad activities.

In 1998 Mbuso Mbambo, a self-confessed member of an “IFP hit squad” told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s amnesty committee how in 1992 Mtetwa “arrived with a box containing 20 AK47 rifles which he [Mtetwa] said he received from across the Mozambiquan border”.

But Mtetwa also played a crucial role in brokering peace between the IFP and ANC in the province.

He was a member of the three-a-side committee, comprising of members from both parties and responsible for peace broking between the parties.

Premier S’bu Ndebele described Mtetwa as a man with patience and praised him for working towards peace in KZN.

“The peace that KwaZulu-Natal now enjoys is, to a large degree, due to the vision and courage of the Reverend Mtetwa,” said Ndebele.

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