Johannesburg - Epainette Mbeki spent her life in the trenches of the struggle for peace, freedom, and democracy in South Africa, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Saturday.

“Ma-Mbeki belongs to that generation of our people who knew none other than the life of selfless sacrifice in the struggle to rid our country of the demon of apartheid colonialism in all its manifestation,” he said in a eulogy prepared fro delivery at Mbeki's funeral in Dutywa, Eastern Cape.

“They did so without seeking personal glory, distinction or material gain.”

Ramaphosa said the Constitution prescribed that all of us honour those who suffered for South Africa's justice, and freedom.

It had also prescribed that we respect those who have worked to build and develop South Africa.

Ramaphosa was representing President Jacob Zuma who was meant to originally deliver the eulogy but had spent the week resting from a demanding schedule.

The deputy president said for those like Mbeki, the struggle against apartheid was inherently a struggle to reclaim their birth right as a people, as their citizenship, dignity and identity was denied to them by successive racist regimes.

“It was a struggle that necessarily resulted in deaths in detention, execution of some of the best sons and daughters of our country,” he said.

Mbeki's generation was ready to sacrifice whatever comfort they could have enjoyed, sparing neither strength nor effort to bring an end to what the world proclaimed to be a crime against humanity.

Mbeki, the mother of former president Thabo Mbeki, died in the Life St Dominic's Hospital in East London, Eastern Cape last week Saturday at the aged of 98. - Sapa