Deputy Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Bavelile Hlongwa had stopped to assist a motorist whose vehicle had overturned on the N1 at Maubane in Limpopo when she became a casualty of a freak accident.
She and her security detail, emergency medical services personnel and Bakwena security group personnel were in the process of assisting the motorist when a flatbed truck crashed into the scene,” Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said in a statement yesterday.
Mbalula said an investigation had been launched by the Road Traffic Management Corporation and the SA Police Service.
“South Africa has lost a diligent and dedicated servant of the people. Just as she lived, Hlongwa died helping others,” Mbalula said in tribute.
The presidency issued a statement saying President Cyril Ramaphosa was deeply saddened by the untimely passing of the deputy minister.
“Ramaphosa has also expressed his condolences to the families of the four people who died with the deputy minister on scene while attempting to assist the passengers involved in another incident.
“The death of deputy minister Hlongwa is a devastating, untimely loss of a talented young leader,” said Ramaphosa.
Hlongwa (35) served as deputy minister of mineral resources and energy from May 30 this year. Prior to her appointment, she served as executive deputy chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).
She studied at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering.
She went on to start her career at Shell Downstream SA.
Executive chairperson of the NYDA Sifiso Mtsweni, who worked with Hlongwa at the ANC Youth League and again at the NYDA, described her as a “vibrant, forthright young woman who was outspoken and a gender activist.
“We worked together as members of the national executive committee of the ANC Youth League. Before that we were together in the student movement in the SA Students’ Congress. And then, of course, when I was appointed to lead the NYDA she was appointed as deputy chairperson.
“Today in the ANC Women’s League there is something called the Young Women’s Desk; within the NYDA Hlongwa was instrumental in establishing a similar young women’s desk, where she led from the front on issues of gender-based violence, of provision of sanitary towels, of calling for women to occupy positions,” said Mtsweni.
He credited Hlongwa for being uncompromising with respect to gender equality, a trait that lead to the NYDA now having a 50% female representation in its top executives.
Gauteng government spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga, who also worked closely with Hlongwa said: “BV [Hlongwa] was our youth league convener of deployees in Gauteng. My first impression of her was that she was too serious for her age. She was a true revolutionary, she was committed to the cause of the struggle, she dedicated her life to serve our people, especially women and the poor. Ironically, she passed away trying to save South Africans who were involved in an accident.”
The presidency revealed that Hlongwa would be honoured with an official funeral in line with government’s state, official and provincial funeral policy. The president has directed that the national flag fly at half-mast at every flag station in the country until the deputy minister is laid to rest.
In a violent country such as ours, could kindness and humanity such as Hlongwa’s be a salve on our collective wound?
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