Selflessness, respect and dignity were some of the words that mourners used to describe the late Durban attorney Edward Mvuseni Ngubane at a memorial service held at the Durban City Hall on Wednesday.
Ngubane was found dead from a shot to the head on the back seat of his Mercedes-Benz at his Kloof home on Saturday.
Police believe it was a suicide.
Despite the sombre atmosphere at the memorial service, a lot of the speakers reminisced about how Ngubane – affectionately known as “Seni” – had a great sense of humour.
They shared some of his jokes, which had everyone at the packed hall in stitches. Every now and again the odd struggle song would be sung, to emphasise Ngubane’s political involvement.
Ngubane was “too great” and his contributions too immense to be explained, said MEC for Community Safety, Liaison and Transport Willies Mchunu.
Speaking on behalf of the premier, Mchunu said when news of Ngubane’s death broke at the weekend, he and other ANC leaders were attending the party’s provincial conference in Newcastle.
“We were numbed with shock and disbelief. Even now we are still in shock, we cannot believe he is really gone.”
Mchunu said: “He did all our legal work; even the president (Jacob Zuma) relied on him (on legal matters). In KZN there is not a single department that he never assisted legally in critical matters.
“His traces are everywhere... He was an important resource. He was a pillar to the president. We are not ashamed as the ANC to say that this loss will affect us severely.”
KZN Law Society Vice-President Eric Barry said Ngubane always had a listening ear and always treated people with respect and dignity.
Sifiso Msomi, the deputy chairman of the Black Lawyers’ Association (BLA), said Ngubane was not just a recruiter, but an organiser.
“He was a principled man; he was fully committed to the BLA. He was a role model to young black practitioners, and very easy to talk to,” he said.
SADC Lawyers Association (SADCLA) president Thoba Poyo Dlwati said of Ngubane: “He was our hope. He was also in favour of the empowerment of women.”
Judge King Ndlovu said he had attended a function with Ngubane about five weeks ago and he had been cheerful and cracking jokes as usual. “His company was always pleasant.”
An emotional Nonduduzo Khanyile-Kheswa, one of his law firm partners at Ngubane and Partners Inc, said as a firm they were deeply saddened by Ngubane’s death, and that he had left a big void.
“He was a colleague, confidant, a selfless, caring and giving man. The staff loved him so much. He would take staff out for lunch. We will remember him for his cheerfulness, singing and dancing. He was always in a good mood. He was never authoritative, but consultative… We cannot be him, but can emulate him,” she said.
Advocate Marumo Moerane described Ngubane as a man among men, dignified, down to earth and empathetic.
“We have lost someone of great leadership and integrity. A man of his word, principled, an engaging person who was easy to get along with. He had a marvellous sense of humour,” Moerane said.
Nokuthula Ngubane, a family member, said they would always remember him as a principled man of honour.
The funeral will take place tomorrow at Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC from 9am.
Ngubane will be laid to rest at Lalakahle Cemetery in Botha’s Hill.