FUNERAL OF MR JUSTICE THULA MTHIMKHULU RADEBE
EAST RAND : OCTOBER 28, 2000
We have come here to mourn one of the most tragic occurrences in this juncture of South African history. We have been summoned together to share our pain and deal with the anger which we all feel. The assassination of our brother, Justice Radebe, is an act of violence which sets back the difficult process of reconciliation which we have so laboriously pursued in this region. I have lost a friend whom I have known for decades. The Party has lost a courageous leader. The cause of reconciliation has suffered a major injury. The country has lost a small but significant piece of its democratic hope.
Last October, Mr Justice Radebe was with me celebrating one of the greatest milestones on the path of reconciliation when President Mbeki and I finally unveiled a monument to the victims of violence in Thokoza. Together we vowed that our future would never again be tainted by the violence and despair which characterise conflicts of the past in this area. We sought to close, once and for all, the chapter of violence, to open a new beginning in which people can work together in this region to achieve common prosperity. We were together again when we celebrated the silver anniversary of the IFP at Jabulani Amphitheatre on the 21st of May this year. I never thought that I will not be able to see him again.
Now we are faced with the hard reality of violence re-emerging in its most brutal form. Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident. This killing has played out after similar assassinations perpetrated in Nongoma, around Pietermaritzburg and throughout KwaZulu Natal. The assassination of IFP leaders has continued unabated in spite of the joint efforts President Mbeki and I have made to promote reconciliation. Violence and assassination continue to be a tool of political action, employed for the purpose of gaining constituencies and influencing electoral results.
I know that President Mbeki is as committed as I am to the cause of reconciliation. However, it is a reality that many ANC structures are far from having abandoned the ways of the past and still continue to conduct politics through the barrel of the gun, with well-planned and deliberate intimidation. ANC structures have not condemned murders of IFP leaders often enough, nor do they participate actively in identifying the culprits and isolating the rotten apples in their midst. It is difficult to look upon this inertia and justify it, when people continue to die. It is difficult to look upon this inertia without suspicion of connivance or tacit approval.
The trial of the murderers of Sifiso Nkabinde in Pietermaritzburg revealed that the assassins of Mr Nkabinde included Mr Lincoln Mbikwane an ex-MK member who was discharged from the South African Defence Force, and included Mr Sandile Dlamini who is a member of the SANDF. The list included Mr Joel Mkhize, an ANC Councillor and it included Mr Siphiwe Shabane, the bodyguard of the ANC Mayor of Richmond. The list included a former SAPS sergeant and another mayoral bodyguard, Mr Anil Jelal. They were in possession of machine guns. The name of a member of the National Executive of the ANC, a KwaZulu Natal Minister, was mentioned as some kind of backroom boy in the planning of the murder of Mr Nkabinde.
Whether the ANC likes it or not, whether South African historians and opinion-makers like it or not, it is a fact that the history of our country shows that the ANC is the sole constant denominator of violence running through all the conflicts which have claimed lives in our country. In the Midlands, the wounds opened by the conflict between the UDM and the ANC are still bleeding profusely. There are also old wounds of the conflicts between the ANC on the one hand, and the PAC and AZAPO on the other. The armed struggle that the ANC waged throughout South Africa was a tool of political action and was used to gain the support of the masses, which then elected it to power in 1994. The armed struggle is not a memory of a distant past, but rather an every-day legacy, the presence of which continues to pollute present day politics and the hearts and minds of the people, often resurfacing its ugly head.
The time has come for all those who are genuinely against violence and in favour of reconciliation to stand up and be counted. The time has come to take positive steps to make reconciliation succeed and the rule of democracy prevail over politics by violence and intimidation. The time has come for people to begin condemning these brutal consequences of the armed struggle, so that this chapter can forever be closed and its legacy obliterated from the reality of our present. We must counter the culture of violence with positive and tangible actions of political goodwill and reconciliation.
It is essential that the IFP and the ANC come together, condemning without reservation the assassination of our brother, Justice Radebe, not only with words but also with deeds. We must ensure that the politics of violence does not pay in this ward, does not pay in this region, and does not pay anywhere in South Africa. For this reason, I call on IFP and ANC structures to join together with a common request to be presented to the Independent Electoral Commission that the elections in this region cannot be held and must be postponed.
There is no doubt that this terrible assassination is capable of undermining the foundations of the difficult process of reconciliation in this area and that, at this juncture, conditions do not exist for free and fair electioneering and a free and fair election. Before electioneering can resume in this area, we must overcome the shock of this vile assassination and promote sufficient goodwill and reconciliation to allow for the dynamics of electioneering to play out in a serene and tolerant environment without escalating into further conflict. It is incumbent on both the ANC and the IFP to react to this murderous violence by joining hands and building bridges within this community.
We cannot do so until the righteous ire of this community has been placated by our working together for the cause of reconciliation. Elections here must be postponed so that violence does not pay and peace may triumph. I urge all IFP structures and members to remain calm in spite of the painful provocation that we have all suffered. Justice Radebe was a great leader and a close friend to many of us. I miss him sorely and my heart is filled with rage because of his untimely and unjustified death. However, I feel that on an occasion such as this we must prove our worth by being strong rather than weak, which means remaining calm and rejecting any provocation. We cannot allow the cycle of violence to resume in this area. If the cycle of violence does indeed resume in this area, our brother Justice Radebe will indeed have died in vain, which we shall never allow to happen.
Justice Radebe dedicated his life's efforts and hopes to bring peace in this community. We must honour him by promoting the cause of peace in spite of what the enemies of peace have done to him. Our dedication to peace and reconciliation makes the memory of Justice Radebe and our cause stand tall over the infamy and cowardice of this assassination. If we react with violence to violence, it will all be lost. To start the cycle of violence and war in this area again takes very little and people should not underestimate the potential for disruption as a result of what some may consider a small retaliatory action. Conflicts always start small, but soon grow big. For this reason, we must ensure that the cycle of violence stops here and now.
We must ensure that all our leaders in this area are safe. If we are to promote the cause of prosperity the ANC must now undertake to share with us the responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of all other IFP candidates. We cannot have free and fair elections in this area unless there is recognition that the safety and security of IFP candidates is a matter which must concern everybody, and not the IFP alone. Unless all IFP candidates in this region are guaranteed safety and security in a tangible way, the cause of democracy in our country may very well be declared lost from this moment on.
Depending on the reaction that political forces will generate through this crisis, one will assess whether we have broken away from the politics of violence of the past or whether, in the future, contesting a ward will take place in the same fashion in which the armed struggle won entire communities over to its promoters. Unless this cruel and senseless assassination becomes an isolated incident which all political parties guarantee will never ever happen again, South Africa runs the risk of witnessing the competition for wards becoming a power struggle between individuals played out through the barrel of the gun. The notion of "first past the post" will become a struggle for survival.
For this reason it is essential that both the ANC and the Government, including the police, show their visible and tangible commitment to guaranteeing the safety and security of all other IFP candidates in this region. The IFP and the ANC must work together to decrease tension in this area, and must do so immediately. We must also say clearly and unequivocally that the IFP will not tolerate any intimidation of our candidates. We are devoted to peace and reconciliation. We know that we have survived decades of war in this area and we are not the kind of people who, under any conditions, will be intimidated.
Whoever thinks that the IFP can be intimidated had better think again. We stand as tall and as strong as we ever did. Violence did not bend us during the worst stages of the black-on-black conflict when our houses were burned and every week our people had to bury their loved ones. We have endured too many funerals, too much pain and too much suffering to ever be intimidated. For each of us that falls, a hundred will rise to keep the IFP flag flying. We mourn the death of our brother, Justice Radebe, who was a hero of courage. As a tribute to his courage and life-long dedication to the IFP, we shall pledge again and again never to be intimidated by violence. If we are intimidated we will allow violence to succeed.
Justice Radebe leaves behind a legacy of courage and dedication to the Party. We will live up to his legacy and ensure that his death continues to be honoured by a commitment to the ideals and the struggle to which he dedicated his life. The struggle goes on. The struggle is not over. Justice Radebe's spirit lives in the struggle and it echoes the suffering of all our people who are waiting for the struggle to succeed and for the final victory to be achieved over poverty, unemployment and lack of essential services. The struggle of the IFP and the struggle of Justice Radebe are the struggle for development, development and development. We need peace and reconciliation in order to foster development. We need to bring about the development of our communities to ensure that one day our children will be able to live and prosper in a society no longer afflicted by poverty, ignorance for lack of education, malnutrition and unemployment.
I have dedicated my life to this struggle for development and social justice, as I know that Justice Radebe did with his own. As we continue the struggle, Justice Radebe and all the other leaders of the IFP who have died in this struggle will continue to live on. Their lives will have brought us closer to our final destination, which is that of prosperity, true democracy and peace. Our dedication to continuing our brother's work allows us to remember and honour his spirit daily, knowing that we are working as he worked and promoting the cause which he championed. I am proud of the memory my friend leaves behind but I weep to know that the full life he ought to have enjoyed has irrevocably been taken from us.
I say that his life has been taken from us, for I know that our brother's eternal life continues according to the plan of the Almighty. While his family grieves, Justice Radebe finally rests. He was a man who spoke his mind, announcing his beliefs with courage and conviction. For this, he appeared a threat to the enemies of reconciliation. But for the very same reasons, he stood as a hero among those who seek truth, prosperity and peace. At this hour, I extend my heart's cry to Justice Radebe's family, Mrs Radebe and her children and other next of kin, so that we may mourn together this dreadful loss. I pray that we may take comfort in one another's memories, holding our own close to our hearts. May God in His glory display the truth of His words that happy are those who grieve, for they shall be comforted. May He comfort us now in our hour of loss.