MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR THEMBA KHOZA, MP


REMARKS BY

MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI, MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY AND
MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS

Durban City Hall, Durban: June 1, 2000

Words appear empty and inadequate to mourn the death of our comrade, Themba Khoza. As the sounds of weeping subside, we are left with an eerie silence. Indeed, a gap is left in our family of the IFP. It is strange to gather as members and leaders of the Inkatha Freedom Party, as we have done on countless occasions, and feel so keenly the absence of one. Today, I pray that I may speak the sentiments of all those who feel the loss of Themba Khoza, from those who knew only the pleasure of a friendly greeting in the corridors, to his family left grieving his tragic death. I know that our brother left an impression on all those he met, however briefly. It is with a deep and lasting pain that I weep with those who knew him well.

It is only on a manís passing that he is spoken of with the words we think while he is alive. As we pay tribute to Themba Khoza today and in the coming years, we may properly express our respect for this man who shouldered his heavy duty with a sense of solemnity and responsibility. Throughout his life in politics, Themba Khoza was always aware of his position of leadership within the communities he served. He never lost sight of the impact his words and actions would have on hundreds of ordinary South Africans looking to their leaders for guidance in situations fraught with tension and danger. Conducting himself with consistent dignity, Themba Khoza gave the example by dedicating his efforts to the goal of peace.

As a leader among the communities of Gauteng, Themba Khoza worked with dedication to secure an end to conflict. His work spoke clearly of an inner vision of good governance tempered with social justice. I know that Themba Khoza understood the realities on the ground, among the people. He has walked on soil soaked with blood and been where others feared to tread. Wherever violence took its toll, Themba went in speaking peace. Where wounds were opened, Themba came extolling healing. No ordinary man could hope to achieve such work. It demands extraordinary courage and a toughness of spirit known by few. We can never forget the look of heaviness on the brow of our brother.

Themba Khoza was an unsung hero of the struggle within the struggle. He saw, endured and bore untold suffering, violence and intimidation. He was there where people were killed on account of their ethnicity or because they were migrant workers. He was there defending people whose houses were burned to the ground. Innumerable times, he risked his life. Many times his body was covered with his own blood. He was a product of the struggle within the struggle, but in the spirit of peace and reconciliation he rose above the political context which originally shaped him to embrace and propagate a call for peace and reconciliation. Most of all, he was a leader of people, whose sufferings he embraced, whose dreams he voiced and whose tears he wiped

away. He was an indefatigable servant of our Party and of our cause, to which he dedicated his entire life without reservation or hesitation. Themba Khoza is a true South Africa hero, the glory of which can only be fully appreciated when the reality of the black-on-black conflict will finally be disclosed and understood.

His path was often cut among a tangled web of allegations, threats and accusation. Standing in the midst of conflict, Themba Khoza was never free from the ugliness which envelops the lives of those bent on revenge and murder. He was in the hot seat, so to speak, time and again and had to answer against accusation and stand firm under censure. To those trying to establish a reign of terror, Themba Khoza appeared an impenetrable barrier, never wavering on what is just, or compromising the lives of citizens. As such, he was a leader of virtue, tough enough to speak for peace and compassionate enough to come out fighting. It is difficult for us to comprehend that a man so seemingly indestructible could be taken by a weakness of the body.

As we mourn today, we feel the full tragedy of the illness which attacked our brother. In moments such as these, we are made aware of the frailty of our human condition and recognise with stark clarity that our time on earth is measured. There is not one among us who can circumvent death or elude the progress of time. Knowing such truths, we must fulfil the task of living with great enthusiasm, expending every moment in purposeful action. Even our thoughts should never be idle, for we should set our thinking on the present moment, determining how best to live this day. The road ahead will not be smooth. Sickness and disease will come. These are facts of life which we must bear with courage.

I have often been inspired to such courage by reading the words of the Bible. When confronted with physical suffering, and particularly at this present moment, I am reminded of the passage which reads "For we know that when this tent we live in - our body here on earth - is torn down, God will have a house in heaven for us to live in, a home He himself has made, which will last forever." [2 Corinthians 5 v 1] I pray it will be a comfort to his family, who suffered the progress of his illness, that Themba Khoza has thrown off the burden of this earthly flesh and will never again experience pain, discomfort, sorrow or distress. Our memories of this man should honour our knowledge of eternal peace. Let us remember the passion which burned in his eyes, driving his actions to ever greater achievements.

Themba Khoza leaves a legacy of hard work which should not be allowed to rest. It is not possible to pay tribute to the lifeís purpose of our brother without speaking of reconciliation and peace. I cannot imagine a greater honour to the memory of Themba Khoza than that we should bravely take up the task of completing his work. He was not the first to attempt peace among our people and he surely will not be the last. Yet he was a vital link in the incorruptible chain of reconciliation which has brought us to the present moment, from where we may pursue peace with greater hopes of success.

It is no exaggeration to say that Themba Khoza saved lives. With every effort of peaceful negotiation and conciliatory speech, Themba Khoza spared the lives of those caught in the midst of conflict, and honoured the memory of the thousands who have died by violence. We cannot rest in seeking peace until every South African lives without the fear that violence will take our children. The legacy of violence which has plagued our country must finally end. The time has surely come for us to close the chapter of conflict written by the hand of our own brothers. Now, peace must guide every effort. Peace must temper every thought. Peace must be our challenge.

In this hour of grieving, it gives me comfort to meditate on the words of King David. In my heart of hearts, I hear these words equally spoken by Themba Khoza, our comrade and brother, and I cannot cry for him any longer. May we share Godís comfort by hearing the words of a man at the end of his life:

"I saw the Lord before me at all times. He is near me and I will not be troubled... my words are full of joy... I, mortal though I am, will rest assured in hope, because you will not abandon me in the world of the dead; you will not allow your faithful servant to rot in the grave. You have shown me the paths that lead to life..." [Acts 2 v 25 - 28]

In faith I believe that Themba Khoza will forever walk the path of life, for he will live in the memories of every heart that mourns for him today. When we recall his stature, he will live. When we speak of his passionate dedication, he will live. When we take up his work and press forward for peace among our people, through this honour, Themba will live. May we seek our solace in this knowledge of enduring life. As time goes on, the silence left by our brotherís passing will be replaced with words of encouragement and hope. Our own words must be those that remind us to live as though the boundaries of life itself could be burst by the flood of faith and courage. Let our tribute be this; that we live life boldly and continue always to fight for peace. In these things too, Themba will surely live. I saw a very scathing editorial written about Themba Khoza the day before yesterday. My reaction was that, when a man dies, this is not the time to defend or condemn him. Themba Khoza is now before HIs maker, the final judge. Whatever judgements are bandied about about our brother, he is now before the final Judge who will judge us all when our time comes.

May our brother rest in peace.

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