North West MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, Gordon Kegakilwe, has been laid to rest.
A special official funeral was held on Friday after he died at a medical facility in Klerksdorp on Monday after testing positive for Covid-19.
Premier Job Mokgoro said in a statement that Kegakilwe had been admitted to the Vryburg private hospital on Sunday for pneumonia and was immediately put on oxygen. He was transferred from there the following day.
His wife, Betty, told mourners she regretted granting permission for her husband to be moved.
“Your departure was so soon. To think you were responding to treatment, able to sit and walk and eat. I regret allowing you to be transferred,” Kegakilwe’s spouse said.
She also said she still didn’t have full details of how her husband died, saying all the family knew, is what they learnt through the media.
The mother of three said she had accepted the passing of a man who she described as having a heart of “solid gold”, who had given her and their children wonderful memories over their years together.
“Thank you for your endless love, thank you for the memories. You are the man I love, and I was proud to be your wife.”
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who joined in the proceedings remotely, said Kegakilwe’s loss was one felt across the nation.
“People of the North West and South Africa as a whole have lost an activist, a hero, a revolutionary, who worked up until his last breath to save lives,” the minister said.
Dlamini-Zuma, who engaged with Kegakilwe last week Friday, said she was shocked by his death as the last time she saw him during a virtual meeting with the provincial executive he did not complain of any ailments.
“Even as he departed from our midst, he left with proverbial boots on, in the line of duty, he stood at the front lines of our fight against Covid-19,” she said, referring to his role as an MEC in North West.
She added Kegakilwe and many other health workers had put their own lives on the line to serve the rest of the country.
Dlamini-Zuma said the MEC, who was also part of the ANC in North West’s interim provincial committee tasked with uniting warring factions in the platinum-rich province, was a “well-rounded activist from a relatively young age”.
She said the governing party owed the fallen MEC a stronger and united provincial structure, which works on uplifting the lives of the people in North West.
The minister praised Kegakilwe’s deep love for his family and the people he served, calling for his memory to be honoured by fulfilling the objectives of the former liberation movement to build an equitable and just society.
She also said efforts to fight the spread of the pandemic, which has infected more than 200 000 South Africans, should be redoubled in his memory.
“Let’s make the necessary sacrifices to protect ourselves and one another,” Dlamini-Zuma said.