Chairperson, I thank the hon Minister Sexwale and hon Deputy Minister Zoe Kota-Fredericks for their presence. Ladies and gentlemen and special delegates, our movement is in mourning and our hearts are bleeding with profound sorrow and grief. We have seen three of our beloved comrades pass away and being laid to rest in one week.
A few days after losing one of the bravest champions of our continued quest to dismantle the legacy of apartheid settlement in our country, Comrade Sicelo Shiceka, our nation woke up to the tragic news of the death of yet another loyal servant of our people, Comrade Roy Padayachie. He died in Ethiopia while attending a meeting of the African Peer Review Mechanism on behalf of President Jacob Zuma.
While our hearts were bleeding and our movement was in mourning, we lost yet another veteran of our struggle for gender equality, Ma Florence Nyanda, whose life, words and deeds were the embodiment of a true cadre of the ANC and a loyal servant of the people of Mpumalanga.
Allow me to pay homage and express our profound condolences to the families and friends of the three fallen cadres of our movement: Comrade Sicelo Shiceka, Comrade Roy Padayachie and Comrade Florence Nyanda, whose roll calls today give us sombre assurance that their lives will remain interlinked with the story of our movement's relentless journey to bring freedom to our people.
Those whose lives crossed the path travelled by Comrade Roy will attest with the utmost assurance that his life was that of a devoted soldier. He died with his boots on and in full uniform, a fearless warrior who held on to his spear until his last moment.
Comrade Roy served the ANC with distinction. He remained an instrumental figure in our quest to mobilise Indian workers to strike in the sugar-cane plantations, coal mines and factories through the Natal Indian Congress. He stood tall among the people of the former Natal province who took up the spear to wage a concerted fight against apartheid and all its ailments. All of us in the ANC can say for sure that with the help of the relentless effort and unwavering commitment of Comrade Roy, we defeated apartheid and all its manifestations. We thank his family for sharing him with us and the people of South Africa.
I lack the boldness of spirit to rise today and tell the story of the journey travelled by Mam' Florence Nyanda. I say this because I am still seeking the courage to overcome the grief of losing such a great veteran of the struggle of the people of Mpumalanga. Her life was the living monument of a true servant who chose to be nothing but a champion in the fight against the anguish and suffering experienced by her people. I too am still seeking the courage to rise from the sorrow and emptiness shared by the people of Mpumalanga and women across South Africa, as well as the country as a whole, for losing a relentless voice crying out against their suffering.
Mam' Florence Nyanda was a champion for women's rights and gender equality. Her illustrious political involvement in the struggle against apartheid is the epitome of a servant of the people; one who rose against and surmounted the travesties of growing up in a repressive apartheid society, which was characterised by the deep-rooted racial, cultural and gender discrimination that faced many of the women of her time.
She worked tirelessly, adding a formidable voice to those that were speaking out against the sufferings facing many women in Mpumalanga and the country. She worked for the ANC underground during apartheid and remained a significant champion of the transitional government after the integration of KaNgwane and the former Transvaal province into what is known today as Mpumalanga province. After serving on various transitional councils, she joined the Mpumalanga legislature before moving to the NCOP and subsequently to the NA to lend her voice to our relentless national quest to protect women and children.
I want to thank the Nyanda family for sharing her life with our movement and the people of South Africa. We say a fond farewell to this pulse of our movement. We also thank her for her sacrifice and tireless work in fighting for our people.
In conclusion, let me say that they ran the race, they fought and they became victors. All that awaits them is the crown shared with Bertha Gxowa, Ida Mntwana, Lillian Ngoyi, Dorothy Nyembe, Helen Joseph, Charlotte Maxeke, John Langalibalele Dube, Alfred Xuma, James Sebe Moroka, Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo ...
... nabanye abezimu bethu be-ANC, sithi abalale ngokuthula. Ngiyathokoza. [Iwahlo.] [... even our other ANC ancestors. We say, let them rest in peace. [Applause.]]
The Council observed a moment of silence for hon Mr R L Padayachie, MP, and hon Ms F M Nyanda, MP.