Parents gather to pay their respects to the Mother of the Nation

“My son was a MK soldier. He knew her. Even now he has a picture of Winnie and Nkosazana in his room.”

Minkie Modisane, a 62-year-old resident of Meadowlands in Soweto, is the mother of Sidwell Puki Modisane, a former uMkhonto we Sizwe soldier who was buried two weeks ago.

Modisane is part of a small group of mourners who have gathered outside the home of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. She has been outside the home since 5am this morning.

Pointing towards the MKMVA soldiers singing o sana lwami we mama – a song that was sang when mothers lost their children during apartheid – Modisane talks of her son’s funeral.

“They told us that he led the way for Winnie. Ke so ka baka la ngwanaka (I’m here because of my son), he loved this woman”.

Modisane says she still can’t explain Sidwell’s death. He committed suicide after he shot himself in the head. She found out when his friends from the military came to tell her that they had found his body.

“When he left to join the MK … I was scared. They told me that I must know that I must expect anything. He could come back or not come back. I put my faith in Jesus that he would come back and he came back.”

Modisane said of Madikizela-Mandela: “She helped the children a lot during those times. Winnie fights for us, she fought for us, went to jail for us. We are who we are because of Winnie.”

Jerry Maleshane from Malberton was also there because of his children. Standing by the side of the house with his three little girls, still dressed in their pajamas, he said he thought it was important to bring them here because they “have to recognise that these are the people that fought for us and we are still fighting … I am doing the little that I can do to conscientise them”.

“This is a historical moment, for them as little ones. They don’t understand, but this morning I woke them because at some point I want them to recall this moment, that “Dad took us there, we have memories and we have photo.” he said.

Officials who have also come to pay respects at the Mandela home today include the wife of Former President Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel, Cooperative governance Minister Zweli Mkhize and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.

“The most important thing is that during these periods we must be strong, firm and appreciate the fact that this is the easier part. After the funeral the family is going to be more lonely. That’s where the actual vacancy is going to be visible,” said Mantashe.

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Tebogo Tshwane
Tebogo Tshwane

Tebogo Tshwane is an Adamela Trust financial journalism trainee at the Mail & Guardian. She was previously a general news intern at Eyewitness News and a current affairs show presenter at the Voice of Wits FM. Tshwane is passionate about socioeconomic issues and understanding how macroeconomic activities affect ordinary people. She holds a journalism honours degree from Wits University. 


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