Durban - IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi has paid tribute to his former adviser and “son”, Dr Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, who, in spite of battling terminal cancer, long resisted using morphine so that he could remain clear of mind.
Speaking at a memorial service at St Thomas Anglican Church in Musgrave on Sunday, Buthelezi defended Oriani-Ambrosini’s advocacy of medical marijuana.
Buthelezi said it was for the sake of Oriani-Ambrosini’s, “great quest against cancer” that he clarified the difference between, “smoking dagga and extracting cannabinoids like THC for use in oils and suppositories, which medical science has found to have no harmful side effects, but certain curative and analgesic effects in cancer treatment”.
In May last year, Oriani-Ambrosini had announced he had been diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer.
In February, the IFP MP tabled the Medical Innovation Bill in which he sought to make legal and available the use of medical marijuana.
“It was very important to him that he maintained clarity of mind, which is why he resisted morphine for such a long time, despite his severe and constant pain,” said Buthelezi.
He also praised Oriani-Ambrosini’s “impeccable and intense” research and taking on the fight against cancer with enormous passion, “as he did every other fight”.
Oriani-Ambrosini’s fighting spirit was evident to the end, with the parliamentarian choosing to end his life on his own terms, said Buthelezi.
“(He) made a characteristically clearly considered and enunciated decision on Saturday morning 16th of August 2014 (by) deciding to end his long and hard-fought battle…”
Buthelezi described this as an act of compassion, courage and defiance saying “he did not choose the fact of his death, but he chose the manner and time”. This, said Buthelezi, was entirely in the character of the jurist he had met in 1991.
Other speakers included representatives of the IFP Youth and Women’s Brigades and other IFP colleagues of Oriani-Ambrosini.
His friend and legal adviser to Buthelezi, Patrick Falconer, broke down as he paid tribute to Oriani-Ambrosini, who had also introduced him to his wife.
Falconer said Oriani-Ambrosini still had so much to achieve and had approached life with vigour and intensity.
Oriani-Ambrosini’s funeral will be held on Friday.