Mompati a 'towering giant in the struggle' - Zuma

2015-05-23 18:02
President Jacob Zuma delivers the eulogy at the special official funeral service of Ruth Mompati. (<a href="">Presidency, Twitter</a>)

President Jacob Zuma delivers the eulogy at the special official funeral service of Ruth Mompati. (Presidency, Twitter)

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Mahikeng - A mother, leader, teacher, gallant fighter, brave warrior and true patriot.

This is how President Jacob Zuma described Ruth Mompati at a funeral held for the struggle stalwart in Vryburg on Saturday.

The 89-year-old politician died in hospital in the early hours of Tuesday morning following a lengthy illness.

In his eulogy, Zuma referred to Mompati as a “towering giant in the struggle for the freedom and democracy that we enjoy today”.

“Here lies an outstanding leader with an exemplary life which is an embodiment of the principles and values of the liberation movement.

“She lived these values of unity, selflessness, sacrifice, collective leadership, humility, honesty, discipline, hard work and mutual respect.”


Mompati was born in the village of Ganyesa in Vryburg and was a qualified teacher.

“Her first major frustration with the apartheid system was when she was barred from teaching simply because the then government did not allow married black female teachers to teach,” Zuma said.

“Lest we forget, that is where we come from. Our country used to be a place where women were treated as subordinates who could not function outside of the supervision of men. This experience made Mme Ruth dedicate her life to fighting for the emancipation of women and for women’s rights to become recognised as human rights.”

She later moved to Johannesburg and joined the law firm of Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo as a secretary.

Exile, military training

Zuma said Mompati became one of the first women to flee the country to join the ANC’s armed wing uMkhonto weSizwe in exile and underwent her military training in the Soviet Union in 1963.

“In that vein, here lies a soldier in the true sense of the word, a soldier in the battle against tyranny and a soldier for peace and freedom.

“We recall a significant intervention she made in August 1992, in her address to the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid during the special day of International Solidarity with Women in South Africa. She cautioned the international community not to be blinded by the euphoria of the unbanning of organisations and the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners.”

Post-1994, Mompati was elected mayor of the Naledi Municipality and later South Africa’s ambassador to Switzerland.

The North West province named the Ruth Mompati District municipality after her and also constructed a bust in her honour, Zuma said.

Special official funeral

Mompati was given a special official funeral, which is a category designated by the president for distinguished persons.

All national flags at all flag stations across the country were flown at half-mast from Wednesday until Saturday.

Zuma concluded his eulogy saying the greatest honour the country can bestow on Mompati is “to draw lessons from her life that will make us better human beings”.

“Rest in peace, Mama Ruth. You have fought a good fight, you have finished the race, and you have kept the faith.”

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