The Congress of the People (Cope) general secretary and former Free State Education MEC Papi Diratsagae Kganare has died from Covid-19.
This was confirmed by Cope and his family. He died at around 18:30 at Life Flora Hospital in Johannesburg on Saturday, said Cope national spokesperson Dennis Bloem.
“Dear Comrades and Friends. It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing away of our General Secretary, Mr Papi Diratsagae Kganare. This is indeed a loss for COPE,” the party said
“We have lost a true Comrade, a committed leader. Our deepest condolences goes to his entire family. May his soul rest in Peace.”
Bloem said Kganare had been in hospital fighting Covid-19 for more than a month. He is survived by his wife Bridget and four children.
His brother-in-law and family spokesperson Reginald Jordan said Kganare was admitted to the hospital with Bridget more than a month ago – she was discharged two weeks and Jordan said: “Bridget is still on oxygen support and has taken the news of her husband’s passing very badly, she is distraught. We are trying to come to terms with this great loss.
Kganare was a very family orientated person.” Kganare’s daughter and granddaughter also contracted the virus, but recovered, said Jordan.
“It has been a very difficult time for all of us ever since Mr and Mrs Kganare had contracted Covid-19. They were in hospital together at the same time. The daughter and granddaughter are still young so they recovered,” said Jordan.
The COPE founder member was a former trade unionist who led the SA Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union as its general secretary until the late 1990s, said Bloem.
Bloem said he knew Kganare since the late 1970s and worked closely with him to build the United Democratic Front in the Free State. Bloem said Cope was devastated by Kganare’s death.
“This was a pillar of Cope. He is a founder member who has built COPE to what it is today. I will never forget comrade Papi. I will never forget his contribution to the freedom struggle – a selfless freedom fighter,” said Bloem.
Bloem said he would remember Kganare for his sense of humour. “He was a very jokey person. You will never find Papi angry – where Papi was, there were jokes, but was very firm.”