Former South African ambassador to Nigeria and Switzerland Sipho George Nene will be buried this week, the family said on Tuesday.
“Comrade George, Ambassador Nene, will be laid to rest in Soweto. The funeral service will be held at his Alma mater Morris Isaacson, on Friday [the 13th of April] 2018, starting at 9 am and will be laid to rest at Avalon Cemetery, Soweto,” said ambassador Welile Nhlapo in a statement on behalf of the family.
“Comrade George Nene died on the evening of the 6th of April 2018, a day we remember the hanging and killing of Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu, by the apartheid regime, 39 years ago.”
The family paid tribute to Nene, “a great intellectual, freedom fighter, a revolutionary and consummate diplomat”.
Nene was born and bred in White City, Soweto, where he completed his matric at Morris Isaacson in 1968. In 1970, he studied and completed a Diploma in Secondary School Teachers Course at University of Zululand.
“It was at the university, where he ended up joining and serving in the South African Student Organisation. He understood that to fight apartheid education is an important weapon. Hence, he returned to his alma matter, Morris Isaacson High School, wherein he taught and help to organise the students, who later became the leadership of the June 16, 1976 uprisings,” said the family statement.
“As his level of political consciousness grew and apartheid intensified its brutality and oppression on the people, it led him to join the African National Congress and uMkhonto we Sizwe underground structures to fight against the apartheid system. He was instructed to leave the country and underwent military training in Pirivanhoe, in the then Soviet Union.”
After military training Nene spent a brief spell as an instructor, in Benguela, Angola.
He was later deployed to Maputo and Swaziland in the Special Operations. He survived many attempts on his life and was detained in Swaziland.
Post the 1994 elections, Ambassador Nene was appointed as the Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations in Geneva.
“Upon the completion of his tour of duty, he became deputy director-general [responsible for] multilateral affairs and was appointed as the special advisor to the minister of international relations and cooperation.”
Last week, incumbent International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu extended condolences to Nene’s family and friends.
She said Nene ranked among the top diplomats “the ANC and the government of South Africa ever deployed across the world”.
– African News Agency (ANA)