Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane has applauded the family of late Buffalo City Metro speaker Alfred Mtsi for publicly announcing that he died from Covid-19 complications, saying it would help stop the stigma about the virus.
Mabuyane was addressing mourners during a virtual funeral service for Mtsi at the East London City Hall on Friday.
“I want to applaud the family for telling us that he died from a Covid-19-related illness.
“This will help to educate our people to take this virus seriously and to adhere to regulations that the government is putting [in place] to manage the spread of this virus.
“Comrade Mtsi’s passing should spur us on to double our efforts of fighting this pandemic in every corner of our province as it is beginning to leave a trail of devastation, claiming the lives of 787 people thus far,” he said.
Mtsi, 69, died at Life Beacon Bay Hospital on Sunday.
At the time of writing on Friday, there were 57,186 confirmed coronavirus cases in the province and 39,865 recoveries.
As he was described throughout the week by ANC and opposition party leaders, Mabuyane said Mtsi was the “epitome” of what a public servant should be.
“He had all the hallmarks of what a revolutionary is.
“He was a servant of the masses through and through.
“He was always trying his best to solve the problems of our people.
“He dies while we have a challenge of finding people like him.
“He was never in the struggle for a self-serving agenda.
“He leaves with his integrity still intact,” he said.
While most knew Mtsi as a politician, his children spoke highly of him as a father.
His son, Thobela, recalled how when he was eight years old, instead of his father being overprotective when he had just been beaten by a peer, he had gently applied petroleum jelly on his face like boxers do in between rounds — and told him to go back and win round two.
“He taught me that he won’t always be around and I will have to be strong and learn to fight my own battles,” he said to soft laughter from mourners.
The funeral was a subdued ceremony, with strict physical distance observed as people sat at least 2m apart, while speakers stuck to limited time when at the podium.
Mtsi’s daughter, Nikitha said: “He was not a churchgoer, but was the epitome of what God wants people to be.”
Mtsi’s brother, Mbulelo, described him as a “selfless and loving” family man.
“He was slow to anger and always had a smile on and loved people.
“He cared for others and united our families.”
BCM mayor Xola Pakati announced the renaming of the annual mayoral games in honour of Mtsi.
“Comrade Mtsi is no more, but we can do certain acts now to honour his memory.
“Because he loved sports and the advancement of Africans so much, we will start a process of naming the annual mayoral cup to Skuta Alfred Mtsi Games.
“While we live, we will ensure the legacy of comrade Mtsi is honoured through our actions and deeds. He left a strong mark in our hearts, and it is our duty to preserve his legacy.”
He was buried at the West Bank Cemetery.
Mtsi is survived by his wife, Nolundi, and five children.
By Bhongo Jacob – DispatchLIVE