- Danie Gouws, the lawyer of late former Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality mayor Mongameli Bobani, revealed Bobani was planning to become mayor again.
- Bobani died aged 52 at St George's Hospital from Covid-19 on Wednesday at 17:50.
- His family said his death from Covid-19 was a shock because Bobani had taken all measures to prevent contracting the virus.
Condolences have poured in for former mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) and UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani.
Bobani, 52, died in hospital from Covid-19 on Wednesday at 17:50, confirmed UDM leader Bantu Holomisa.
At the time of his death, he was the mayoral committee member overseeing the infrastructure and engineering department.
He had been on a ventilator in hospital for three weeks after contracting Covid-19.
Holomisa first reported the news of Bobani's death on Twitter on Wednesday evening.
Bobani's wife, Nosakhele Bobani, 47, said she was happily married to the politician for 27 years and they have four children. She then referred News24 to the family spokesperson and Bobani's uncle, Thanduxolo Dzedze.
Dzedze said Bobani had been admitted to St George's Hospital on Tuesday 20 October and was on a ventilator ever since.
Dzedze said Bobani started feeling uncomfortable on 16 October following a council meeting and saw a doctor on 20 October.
"We are really shocked that he contracted this virus because he was a very careful person who took all the precautionary measures to counter the spread of the infection," Dzedze said.
Dzedze said Bobani's Magxaki home was closed to visitors for six months until the country was placed on lockdown Alert level 1 on 21 September.
"I remember coming to Port Elizabeth from Johannesburg for a friend's funeral service and I drove to his home after the funeral. He stood behind the locked gate and said, 'Uncle let's talk on video call'. He was so careful. Whenever he would be forced to go out of the house, he would come back and take off his clothes and sanitise himself. The house never ran short of sanitisers," Dzedze said.
Dzedze said the family was preparing to welcome the acting NMBM mayor Tshonono Buyeye and UDM leaders at the family home later on Thursday.
Bobani was born on 12 July 1968 in Addo to Vumile Bobani and Nomvuyo Gladys Mawa, who are both still alive.
In a statement released by the UDM, Holomisa said the party will miss Bobani's energy.
"We commend councillor Bobani for the good work he did for the people in Nelson Mandela Bay and his tireless efforts to grow the UDM in the Eastern Cape. He was always available and ready to roll up his sleeves, and we will miss his energy and enthusiasm," Holomisa said.
Buyeye said Bobani will be remembered as a committed and fearless servant of the people who dedicated his life to the betterment of the poor and downtrodden.
"His passion for his work remained a shining beacon of hope within the Mayoral Committee and the Council as a whole. We pray that his family will receive strength and healing and draw solace from the fact that Cllr Bobani worked for and remained committed to the cause of the poor until his last days on this earth. May his soul rest in peace," Buyeye said in a statement.
Bobani was elected NMBM deputy mayor when his party formed a coalition with the DA, ACDP and Cope following the 3 August 2016 local government elections.
However, the fragile coalition soured with then-mayor and Eastern Cape DA leader Athol Trollip complaining to the media that Bobani was voting against the coalition government with other parties on every item tabled in council.
In August 2018, Bobani was elected mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay after he sided with opposition parties and voted Trollip out through a motion of no confidence.
On 5 December 2019, Bobani was booted out of the mayoral position through a vote of no confidence.
Danie Gouws, his close friend and lawyer, told News24 Bobani died at a time when he was planning to be elected mayor again. "He was working very hard for that position and plans were already in place for him to become the mayor again," Gouws said.
"The wife called me last night saying the doctors had just informed her of the passing. This is really a very big loss to us and the metro. He was a hard-working person who would respond to an issue even at 03:00 in the morning. Even when residents raise issues, he would go out there to address them."
Gouws, who said he knew Bobani for five years, said he met with him three to four times a week to discuss his legal matters.
Gouws said Bobani built the UDM in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro into what it is today.
Holomisa said arrangements for Bobani's funeral will be made in due course.