Remembering Bra Billy as one of a kind

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A passionate family man with intellectual prowess, who loved learning. This is the way Tshepo Modise would describe his late uncle and former Ambassador Billy Modise.

“He passionately loved his family and was always well dressed, like a true Modise. Even with his intellectual prowess he continued to learn from everyone around him because he believed you were never too old to learn.

“At home he continued to bond the family and impart lessons of being respectful and having integrity,” said Tshepo.

Modise was speaking at the memorial service of his uncle “Bra Billy” as the late ambassador was affectionately known, which took place at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) offices in Pretoria on Tuesday.

The former Ambassador to Canada died on the 20th June 2018. Following his passing, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Modise will receive a Special Official Funeral (Category 1).

The 87-year-old Modise was the chief of State Security under the Mbeki administration until his retirement in 2006.

His nephew Tshepo, gave mourners a snippet into the life of Modise outside the confines of the office and thanked his aunt for sharing him with the country.  

“I would like to thank Sis Yoli and the ANC for sharing Uncle Billy with the rest of South Africa,” said Tshepo.

High ranking officials such as former President Thabo Mbeki, DIRCO Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and the Diplomatic Corps community attended the memorial to reminisce and bid their colleague and friend farewell.

Speaking on behalf of Modise’s in-laws, the Bokwe family, Zola Ngcakani said Bra Billy was “one of a kind” and will be remembered for his unwavering commitment to Africa.

Although Modise had long retired, he remained active in his political home, the ANC and was an integral part of the 101 Stalwarts and Veterans who came together to raise their concerns about the trajectory the ANC was taking.

In addition to his commitment to politics, Modise had a number of other passions, including ballroom dancing.

As a ballroom dancer he participated in numerous competitions which covered the various forms of dance such as the Fox Trot, Cha Cha, Tango and Samba.

Modise will be laid to rest on Thursday, 28 June 2018, at Marks Park Sports Field, across the West Park cemetery in Johannesburg.

The ceremony, which will start at 9am, will be open to members of the public. –