Statement of the Presidency on the occasion of the Memorial Service in honour of our Late High Commissioner to Uganda, Ambassador Bavumile Vilakazi Kampala, Uganda: 26 April 2005

The Presidency joins all South Africans in mourning the passing on of the South African High Commissioner to Uganda, a stalwart of our struggle, a committed former trade unionist and worker's leader who through his sterling contribution and those of many others brought freedom to South Africa on April 27, 1994.

Once more death has robbed us of the rich diplomatic experience and skill that Bavumile Vilakazi contributed to our overall work for the renewal of Africa and the creation of a better world.
High Commissioner Vilakazi served the liberation movement with distinction in various capacities. Amongst those we can mention that Bavumile was an elected ANC Member of Parliament, both in the Gauteng Province and the National Assembly, He also served as an Executive Mayor of Ekurhuleni Metro from 2000- 2002.

High Commissioner Vilakazi understood fully well that South Africa could not reach its full potential without the development of the continent of Africa. In this regard, Bavumile was prepared to sacrifice the comfort of his home in pursuit of the overall objective of advancing the interests of our country at an international level. In this regard, his work brought him into contact with various parliaments and institutions in our continent.

We also take this opportunity to thank in particular the President of Uganda and members of his government who have unreservedly provided the Vilakazi family with all the support necessary during this time of need. Their great act of compassion and Ubuntu is deeply felt and appreciated.
Our heartfelt condolences go to his wife, children and the entire Vilakazi family. Akwehlanga lungehlanga!

It is indeed hard to measure the contribution a person like Comrade Bavumile Vilakazi made to the working class struggle and the broader liberation movement.

In his compassion, hard work, discipline, dedication and limitless strength, he personified the fundamental principles, values and culture of democratic trade unionism. He was a tireless fighter for the rights of workers and a workers leader in a class of his own.

However, we derive comfort in the knowledge that until his last moment, Bavumile was in the service of his country and his people. In the eighties, he was the Deputy Secretary of the Vaal Civic Association (VCA), an affiliate of the United Democratic Front (UDF) which led the important struggles against the puppet black local authorities.

Together with South Africa's current Minister of Defence, Mosioua Patrick Lekota and former Premier of our North West Province, Popo Molefe, he was unjustly charged by the apartheid regime in the famous Delmas trial. After the unbanning of the African National Congress, he served as the ANC Deputy Secretary in the then PWV Region, now known as (Gauteng Province). He also served as the Education Secretary of Cosatu in the Wits Region.

South Africa and the continent have lost a dedicated and committed patriot who had dedicated his life to the cause of freedom, democracy and development.

To High Commissioner Vilakazi's wife, sons and the entire Vilakazi family. The Presidency, in a very sincere and personal sense, wishes you strength at this most difficult period occasioned by the loss of your loved one. We are with you in our thoughts and prayers.

Lala ngoxolo qabane!

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