Hon Speaker and hon members of the House, the ANC dips its revolutionary banner in salute to a real cadre of the movement, the man everybody affectionately referred to as Ntate Diale.
There is no need to explain why the ANC buried him under the epithet, mogale wa bagale [hero of the heroes], a compatriot for life and a patriot to the end. He has truly earned that accolade as members have attested to this afternoon.
Ntate Diale's humility, simplicity and humaneness portray this very part of history in the liberation of our country. His introduction to the life of a black man in South Africa was as dramatic as it has always been for most black people, especially from the rural areas.
He left rural Sekhukhuneland in the 1950s to look for a job, like all young men who do so when they come of age. He was arrested for not having a pass book as he was alighting from a train in Pretoria. His first taste of jail was that very same night after being severely beaten by the apartheid police.
Of course, this was to be his first contact with what was to come throughout his life until our country attained liberation in 1994.
He got a proper dompas to stay in Pretoria in 1953. He found his first job as a domestic helper and a gardener, and joined the ANC in 1956, and the Domestic Workers' Union under the SA Congress of Trade Unions, Sactu. Later he joined the SA Communist party, SACP.
At the time of his untimely demise he had been a member of the ANC for 59 years, uninterrupted and with a very clean record. He joined Umkhonto weSizwe, MK, to participate in the armed struggle in 1962 as one of its very first recruits.
He was sentenced to Robben Island for eight years where he sharpened his political acumen and consolidated his dedication to the liberation of our people.
On his release, he was banished to his home village of ga-Masemola and placed under a banning order. He was declared a dangerous communist who must be isolated, and even his kids were not to play with anyone. He was monitored by Security Branch police from Middleburg.
I met Ntate Diale 29 years ago, under circumstances that can only happen in a very oppressive apartheid state. It was in the early evening of a normal Friday, and I had just arrived at St Rita's Hospital in Sekhukhune for my night duty.
That evening, Comrade Thabo Molewa, the late brother-in-law of Minister Edna Molewa, arrived at the hospital from Johannesburg. He told me that he had been sent by the SA Council of Churches, SACC, headquarters, and that he was to do everything in his power to make sure that a young boy from a village called ga-Masemola, who was to be buried the following day, should not be buried until the real truth about his death was known.
The death certificate stated natural causes as the cause of death, but the SACC had every reason to believe that he was murdered by the then SA Defence Force.
So I was requested to perform another postmortem to discover the truth. Of course I agreed, but there was a very big problem. The body had already arrived back home as it was Friday evening, and the family was adamant that in their culture nobody's body could be taken back to a hospital or even back to the mortuary once they had arrived at home for a funeral.
Furthermore, the magistrates' offices were closed and therefore unable to give any permission for a repeat official post mortem after hours. But the SA Council of Churches insisted that I go to the family and perform the post mortem right there inside the house - a very serious cultural shock to the family, and the village.
I did not know anyone in that family, but I had to go. I arrived at ga- Masemola at 20:00 that night. There was a serious stand-off between the Young Lions and the SA Defence Force outside the family house.
There was an old man standing between the two warring factions. This old man was introduced to me as Ntate Diale, and I told him what my problem was. He negotiated very hard with the family to allow me to do the unthinkable - to open the coffin, perform a post mortem there and discover the truth.
Ntate, being what he was, smuggled me through the back door where we had to climb over a wall so that the soldiers outside would not see us or even suspect what we were doing. I performed the post mortem with Ntate Diale standing right there by me, helping to soothe the family whenever their nerves were starting to fray because of what was happening.
To the apartheid government, he was a dangerous communist who had to be isolated, but to many ordinary villagers, he was regarded as a hero and they were prepared to listen to him even when he was requesting them to accept practices completely alien to them, maybe even traumatic practices.
To them he was mogale wa bagale [hero of the heroes], a compatriot for life and a patriot to the end. We were pursuing the truth and Ntate Diale made sure that the truth was known. Of course, even if it was in unusual circumstances, that truth was discovered there in that coffin: The boy had been brutally murdered by the Defence Force. Every internal organ was crushed, but there was no physical sign anywhere outside the body.
Armed with the results of the postmortem, I learnt the very following day that the doctor who had performed the first postmortem lied deliberately because he performed it in the presence of the same people who had murdered the boy, the Defence Force.
He was under pressure, and knowing what he had written as a doctor, he escaped the following day to England, leaving the lies to be buried. But Ntate Diale worked very hard to create conditions for me to discover the truth, and the truth was discovered because of his determination.
Two days later, a giant of a soldier arrived at my practice. He was really huge - the type of guy, who, when he wants to read the time on his wristwatch he must blow very hard with his breath. He looked at the watch he said, "Ja, can you confirm that the Communist Diale performed an illegal postmortem, jong?" I said, "Nee, Meneer, Ntate Diale is not a doctor, I am. I performed the postmortem."
He said, "Ja, dokter, we will leave you alone if you can confirm that he forced you to do so. Jong, we know communists do that."
I told him the conditions under which I had been prepared to perform it, and that Ntate Diale was just helping to negotiate with the family. If there was any blame, I was prepared to take it. But I can assure you that they were determined to pin something on Ntate Diale, but they couldn't because I wouldn't co-operate with them.
While most villagers rejected the notion that Ntate Diale was a dangerous communist to be isolated, those who worked with the system, of course, did believe it and rejected him.
Immediately after the unbanning of the ANC, Tata Walter Sisulu sent the veterans John Kgwana Nkadimeng and Elias Motsoaledi to Sekhukhune, to mobilise among traditional leaders, greet them and reintroduce them to the ANC because many of them had been members in the 1950s of Sebatakgomo, in which both Ntate Phala and Ntate Diale participated.
The job of visiting various traditional kraals to greet and prepare for the meeting with the veterans fell on Ntate Diale and Ntate Mahwidi Phala and