Johannesburg - Eastern Cape Premier and ANC Chairperson in the province Oscar Mabuyane has slammed South Africans, particularly the media, for “completely changing the narrative” about the character of the late Gavin Watson and his decades long work.
Mabuyane was addressing mourners at the funeral of the 71-year-old Watson, who died in a car crash last week, at the Feather Market Centre in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday. He described Watson as a nation builder and a humanitarian par excellence.
Mabuyane further said that it was sad that Watson was being laid to rest in a week that has seen cases of femicide again rear their ugly head following the murders of University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyan and boxing and karate champion Leighandre ‘Baby Lee’ Jegels.
“Knowing Comrade Gavin, he would have condemned these acts with the contempt that they deserve. We want to pass our condolences to the families of these girls.
“But more than that Comrade Gavin would like us as men to stand up against the few men who perpetuate violence against women in our society, this is a task we must pursue in his name,” Mabuyane said.
He said that the news of Watson’s death shocked South Africans and that he had been personally hurt by the behaviour of some South Africans, particularly media houses, for completely changing the narrative about Watson’s character and the work that he had done over decades.
“I want to remind them that the rights they enjoy, which at times they use to trample on the rights of others, were fought for and won through the selfless contribution of the likes of Comrade Gavin and his family,” Mabuyane said.
He added that they as ANC leaders and members had attended Watson’s funeral because he had been a comrade of their who bled the party’s black, green and gold colours when it had been unfashionable to do so.
He said that the Watson family had blessed the ANC with a generation of comrades who understood clearly the values and principles of the party as stated by former ANC president Chief Albert Luthuli that some individuals and families should take the lead and suffer and that the road to freedom was via the cross.
“The Watson family suffered a lot under the apartheid regime for their belief that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no race should be dominant over the other.
“When we count families that were at the forefront of our struggle and who suffered immensely, we must not omit the Watson family. It would be disingenuous to do so,” Mabuyane said.
With the Watson’s Bosasa company (now African Global Operations) heavily embroiled in state capture commission, Mabuyane said that in the ANC they had been taught never to forsake each other as comrades, particularly when one of their own was facing difficulties.
“Seemingly the post apartheid era has consumed us so much that we forget this important principle. We tend to dance and rejoice at the troubles of other comrades and in doing that we play directly at the hands of our political enemies,” Mabuyane said.