Yes! The death of Rev Motlalepula Chabaku has robbed our movement and the nation of one of their most outstanding and humble servants. It has left an incalculable void in the ANC and South African society in general, particularly in the community of Rockville in Soweto. Our hearts are shattered and filled with immense sorrow, because the death of Rev Chabaku comes at a most sombre time, when our movement is still mourning the deaths of three outstanding cadres of our movement.
Chairperson, allow me to express our profound condolences to the Chabaku family and the people of Rockville. We have all lost an icon and a pillar of strength. We have lost a living embodiment of the spirit of ubuntu and humility. And we have lost a great human being who lived her life with the sole purpose of serving our people, and with the resolve to do so.
I am immensely honoured to say farewell and pay tribute to Rev Chabaku, because she was the last surviving member of the Lilian Ngoyi executive that led 20 000 women in the march against the extension of passes to women by the apartheid regime in 1956. I am honoured because the views that Rev Chabaku shared and the principles she defended until her last moment have shaped and moulded many women like me in our taking up the fight against the atrocities of apartheid and the marginalisation of women in our society.
Rev Chabaku was a deeply spiritual person, who carried an abiding sense of community and compassion for all people, especially women, the poor, orphans and the downtrodden. She was a dedicated teacher who devoted her time to running extra classes to help many people who today remain at the helm of our society. She was a true servant of the people and spent most of her time serving the people of Rockville. She was a spiritual leader, a mother to the orphans and a provider to the needy. She did all this with no expectation of a reward or earthly praise. She was in the forefront of our struggle for liberation. She joined many forums and structures to voice her discontent at apartheid and the dehumanising conditions that our people faced under apartheid. She played a pivotal role and shared our struggle for gender equality. As I mentioned earlier, she was at the forefront of the 1956 march to the Union Buildings to protest against the extension of passes to women.
After the fall of the apartheid regime she played a pivotal role in our national quest to dismantle apartheid and all its laws. She had the singular distinction of having been a member of the provincial legislatures of two different provinces, Gauteng and the Free State, where she was the first Speaker of a democratically elected legislature. She went on to serve as a member of the NCOP, where she played an instrumental role in shaping the institution that we have inherited today.
Despite her formidable contribution to the fight against apartheid, she never saw herself and the role she played as greater than those of other members and her comrades. Because of her humility she laid no claim to her role being great in our national fight against oppression. She served with the utmost humility and commitment.
Her relentless efforts and unwavering commitment to her work remained an inspiration to all Members of Parliament, irrespective of their parties. I am reliably informed that as a Member of Parliament she was the last to leave Parliament on Fridays, and she would also be the first to arrive back at Parliament on Sundays. She did this because she knew her purpose and that she had been elected to serve the people of South Africa. Rev Chabaku was always willing to share her time and wisdom.
Her death has robbed us of a mother, spiritual leader and torchbearer whose journey will remain an inspiration to many of us. We salute her for her conviction that a woman's place is anywhere she chooses to be, including in the forefront of the struggle for freedom.
We want to thank her family for sharing her life with our movement and the people of South Africa. We thank her for dedicating all her life to the liberation of our people. We say a fond farewell to this pulse of our movement, and thank her for her sacrifices and tireless work in fighting for our people.
Rev Chabaku ran the race, fought the fight and became the victor. All that awaits her is the crown from Nonkumbi Bertha Gxowa, Ida Mntwana, Lilian Ngoyi, Dorothy Nyembe, Helen Joseph and, of course, the great Charlotte Maxeke. May her soul rest in peace. Thank you. [Interjections.]