Cape Town - MPs from across the political divide on Tuesday paid emotional tributes to their IFP colleague Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, who died at the weekend.
In a debate in the National Assembly on Ambrosini's death, Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi spoke about his close friend and colleague's decision to end his own life.
“Dr Ambrosini's wife, who is present with us in this House today, has now agreed that I speak openly as his lifelong friend and leader,” Buthelezi said.
Ambrosini's wife Carin and young son Luke were in the public gallery during the debate.
“In a characteristically, clearly considered... decision on Saturday morning the 16th of August at 2.14, Mario Oriani-Ambrosini decided to end his long-fought battle with cancer and the unbearable suffering and pain he had to endure towards the end.”
Buthelezi said Ambrosini was facing the imminent failure of his body from lung cancer after both conventional and alternative therapies failed to cure him.
“He was not able to eat and was dependent on an oxygen machine. Many times over the past few weeks Dr Ambrosini told his closest friends that his greatest source of suffering was not his disease, but was the knowledge that his family would face the harrowing journey towards his death.”
Buthelezi said Ambrosini's decision to end his life was “made out of compassion”.
The IFP leader's voice broke at times as he revealed that Ambrosini sent a message to his closest friends prior to his suicide.
“He wrote 'I'm dying in peace and serenity surrounded by the love of my family and friends. I'm dying at a time when I feel ready... My last thoughts are with my child and I hope you will give him some of the love and guidance I would like my child to receive'.”
Buthelezi said he hoped the circumstances surrounding Ambrosini's death would not overshadow the good work he did as a parliamentarian.
Ambrosini won a court bid which paved the way for MPs to introduce private members' bills in Parliament.
He was one of the most vocal opponents to the Protection of State Information Bill.
Prior to his death, Ambrosini introduced the Medical Innovation Bill, which included provisions that alternative treatments like marijuana be introduced to treat terminally ill patients. - Sapa