Members of the South African National Military Veterans Association carry the coffin of Gen Gabriel Ramushwana to his final resting place at Musina Cemetery.
The Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Mr Kebby Maphatsoe, described the late General Gabriel Mutheiwana Ramushwana as a humble, brave and disciplined military man, who played a major role in the attainment of democracy in South Africa.
Maphatsoe addressed thousands of mourners who attended Ramushwana’s funeral service at the Musina show grounds on Saturday. After the service, Ramushwana was finally laid to in the Musina Cemetery. He passed away on 12 January at 1 Military Hospital in Thaba Tswane at the age of 73.
Ramushwana served as Venda head of state between 1990 and 1994, was commander of the National Peace-Keeping Force in 1994 and ANC PR councilor and Chief Whip of the Musina Municipality between 2002 and 2011. He also held the portfolios of land, agriculture, transport and disaster management at the municipality.
Ramushwana was hailed for secretly training members of the ANC military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, while he was the head of then Venda Defence Force. He also held several secret meetings with Mr Nelson Mandela, updating him about military matters before 1994. In 1993, Ramushwana accompanied Mandela to Oslo, Norway, where Mandela, together with FW de Klerk, received their Nobel Peace Prizes.
Maphatsoe said during his time as Venda's head of state, General Ramushwana played a major role in paving the way for change in this country. “He made sure that Venda was a liberated zone for Umkhonto we Sizwe activities. The first Umkhonto we Sizwe conference in South Africa was held in Venda on 9 August 1991, because he gave his blessing and also assisted in facilitating the conference after visiting the ANC leadership in Lusaka, Zambia. He also played a major role in the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) in 1991, which brought together various political, civil, religious and community organizations to chart the future for a new and democratic South Africa. As a founding member of the South African National Military Veterans Association, Ramushwana will always be remembered for his contribution to a better life for all military veterans in this country.”
Musina Mayor Cllr Mihloti Ramoyada said that Ramushwana was a great man who sacrificed his life to serve his people with distinction. “As a former Chief Whip and councilor of Musina Municipality, he taught us many things in relation to governance and administration. The news of his death sent shockwaves through the community he had served so well throughout his life.”
She also mentioned that, instead of shedding a tear, “we must also go down memory lane and remember the good things that Ramushwana did for this community while he was still alive.”
Gun salutes and liberation songs were the order of the day as Ramushwana’s coffin was lowered to its final resting place at Musina Cemetery. Initially it was reported that the funeral was organized to take place in Pretoria, but the family later decided to bury him among his people.