Zuma pays tribute to fallen national hero

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has paid tribute to Henry "Squire" Makgothi, describing him as national hero and outstanding leader.

Speaking at Makgothi's funeral in Johannesburg on Saturday, the President said Makgothi was a stalwart and freedom fighter who had dedicated his entire life to the liberation struggle.

Makgothi died after a stroke at the age of 82 on 24 March.

He was the former Deputy Secretary-General of the ANC, former ANC Youth League Transvaal President and former chief whip of the ANC in the National Council of Provinces in 1997 to 1999.

Zuma said the Makgothi participated in the "critical moments" of the country's history.

The President recalled that Makgothi was actively involved in the Defiance Campaign of 1952. He was also one of the accused in the first Treason Trial but was acquitted. 

Makgothi was later arrested as part of a group of ANC cadres in Botswana by the police who handed him over to the South African Police. He was charged for leaving the country without a passport and sentenced to two years' imprisonment, part of which he spent at Leeuwkop Prison.

He was also charged for ANC activities and sentenced to eight years imprisonment. Makgothi spent a large portion on his sentence at Robben Island.

Zuma said Makgothi spent his time in prison mentoring fellow political prisoners.

"We admired the tenacity of this fountain of wisdom, and were inspired by his willingness to go as far as humanly possible, to ensure the achievement of freedom. That is the type of leader we are bidding farewell to," the President added.

He noted that Makgothi was one of the most disciplined cadres of the ANC

"It is also remarkable that Ntate Makgothi never looked for positions within his organisation, despite being highly capable and experienced. He always humbled himself and was willing to be led. He taught us that if you are a leader, you should also be ready to be led," Zuma said.

In the era of democracy, Makgothi was a constant reminder of the need to speed up service delivery to improve the lives of our people, he added.

"We have to ensure that we work harder to deliver the better life that he fought so hard and tirelessly for," Zuma said.- BuaNews

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