Mourners bid farewell at Manto funeral

Mourners arrived at the Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Pretoria on Tuesday morning for the funeral service of former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

Tshabalala-Msimang died last Wednesday in Johannesburg of a complication resulting from a liver transplant in 2007.

Her coffin, wrapped in an African National Congress flag, was escorted by a convoy including President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Tshabalala-Msimang’s family.

Streets leading to the church were closed and access to the church was strictly limited, with only accredited people allowed entry.

On Monday, Tshabalala-Msimang was hailed as a hero and praised for sacrificing her life to the struggle for freedom.

Addressing those gathered at the Pretoria City Hall on Monday, Motlanthe said Tshabalala-Msimang gave her adult life to the service of humanity.

“I speak with no hyperbole when I say Sis’ Manto’s death marks the end of a chapter in the history of the struggle. [She was] forever keen to pull her weight in whatever effort ...
she was not only eager to do her bit, but always sought to perform her duties with excellence,” Motlanthe said.

He said detractors of the former health minister should learn about the sacrifices she made for the country, and realise she had strengths and weaknesses like everyone else.

“Yet what counts the most at the end of it all is to what extent we can liberate our strengths in the pursuit of lofty objectives, and inversely, how ably we can manage our weaknesses,” he said—- adding that Tshabalala-Msimang had been a dedicated activist who from her student years was prepared to execute ANC tasks in the fight for freedom.

Also addressing about 1 000 people who packed the Pretoria hall to pay tribute to Tshabalala-Msimang was Deputy Correctional Services Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize, who described Tshabalala-Msimang as an intellectual.

“Comrade Manto understood precisely that the advent of democracy constituted yet another terrain of struggle, which she was forever willing to engage, and to shape in favour of the poorest of the poor,” said Mkhize, who is also the ANC Women’s League treasurer general.

Planning Commission head Trevor Manuel, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu, former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and intelligence head Moe Shaik attended the memorial service.—Sapa

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