High-ranking politicians, including ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, who was accompanied by his wife, May, were among the thousands of mourners at Richmond Primary School.
Sithole’s older brother Mpumelelo said: “We feel a great sadness and it’s so painful to explain it. Sbu was the head of our family. He did everything for us at home unconditionally. He loved us.
“We are still asking questions as to why our brother died in such a manner.
“Our brother did not deserve to die in the way he did.”
Sithole was shot four times by two unidentified gunmen near Richlea Primary School.
He was to have started his new job at the uMngeni Municipality next week.
ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala said: “It is never easy addressing a gathering of this nature, where we have all assembled to pay our final homage to an immensely talented young life senselessly cut short in its prime.”
Richmond was ravaged by political violence before and after the advent of democracy, prompting then president Nelson Mandela to visit in 1998.
“It pains us deeply that as the leadership of the ANC we have come here numerous times in the past and are still doing so, even now, either to bury comrades killed in cold blood or to calm tensions that time and again have erupted,” Zikalala said.
The murders had the same devastating impact on the revolution as the assassination of Burkina Faso president Thomas Sankara had, he said.
Without saying Sithole’s death was politically motivated, he said disputes were being settled “through the barrel of the gun”.
Richmond mayor Joe Mchunu described Sithole as a “dedicated employee”.
Sithole’s killing has also raised the ire of KwaZulu-Nalal Premier Willies Mchunu.
“It is cause for deep concern that we are witnessing sinister attempts from various quarters to undermine the stability we have managed to bring about in our province,” Mchunu said.
Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, who visited Sithole’s family earlier this week, said the police would do everything to ensure the culprits were put behind bars.
Also at the funeral were Bheki Cele, the deputy minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and Mthandeni Dlungwane, the MEC for education.
Sithole is survived by his wife, Slindile, and six siblings.