Former deputy minister Elizabeth Thabethe laid to rest

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Elizabeth Thabethe was laid to rest on Saturday.
Elizabeth Thabethe was laid to rest on Saturday.
PHOTO: Supplied by Lesiba Kgwele
  • Former deputy minister Elizabeth Thabethe was laid to rest at Heroes Acre on Saturday.
  • Thabethe died while recovering from a car accident.
  • Panyaza Lesufi was among those who paid tribute to her as a role model.

The former deputy minister of tourism, Elizabeth Thabethe, was laid to rest at Heroes Acre in Tshwane on Saturday.

The funeral service for Thabethe was streamed live.

She died at the age of 62 on 26 March, just as people thought she was over the worst after being injured in a car crash in January.

Her funeral service was marked by requests that Covid-19 protocols be observed.

It was streamed on Facebook to include those who could not be physically present at the service at the Change Bible Church in Katlehong.

A small delegation from the ANC Women's League sang struggle songs near her coffin as the service got under way, with seats spaced out far apart around the hall.

Compassionate role model

Family spokesperson Lesiba Kgwele said Thabethe had been a trade unionist and had also assisted with reconciliation efforts between the ANC and IFP during a period of violent conflict on the East Rand.

Kgwele told News24 her death was a shock because it seemed that she had come through the worst after being seriously injured while travelling in a sedan taxi in Katlehong on 29 January.

Kgwele said Thabethe had been in a coma for a few weeks – and, to everybody's relief, had seemed to be improving.

"She came around. She was okay," said Kgwele.

She went to a rehabilitation facility to recuperate, but took a bad turn, and died.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi was among the mourners who paid tribute to Thabethe, describing her as a compassionate role model.

'Worked for the emancipation of women'

"When we couldn't walk, Ma carried us. When we couldn't feed ourselves, Ma fed us. When we needed guidance, Ma guided us. When our lives were in trouble, Ma resolved them for us," said Lesufi in his capacity as ANC Gauteng deputy chairperson.

The ANC Women's League provincial chairperson, Faith Mazibuko, said that, as a patron of the South African Women's Enterprise Network, Thabethe played a role in promoting women's empowerment.

"Comrade Elizabeth, as a former deputy chairperson of the ANCWL in the province, properly represented us in all the work that she did, even when she was deployed as a deputy minister. She worked for the emancipation of women through policies and programmes, including interpreting the needs of women."

In a tribute, on behalf of the Bertha Qowa Foundation, of which Thabethe was a founding member, Dr Namane Maqau said she was a "multiplier and made those who worked with her or interacted with her feel brighter".

"It was her passion for development of young girls that made TechnoGirls impactful. Development of enterprises and, in particular, promoting women-owned enterprises was a mission she articulated wherever she went," said Maqau.

Thabethe leaves behind her daughter, grandson, sister, family, friends and comrades, said Kgwele.

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