Johannesburg - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was on Wednesday given a stark reminder of the Marikana massacre when a small group of mourners attending Prudence Mabele’s funeral service shouted “Remember Marikana” before he took to the podium.
The group had earlier interrupted Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s speech before exiting Rhema Bible Church’s auditorium in Randburg.
However, Ramaphosa continued, paying tribute to the late Aids activist, saying she needed to be remembered for the work she had done in ensuring that people living with HIV had access to antiretroviral treatment. He also said the country was in need of young women to follow in Mabele’s footsteps.
Mabele was the founder and executive director of Positive Women’s Network.
She succumbed to pneumonia last week in a Joburg hospital. She was thrust into the public’s attention in 1992 when she became the first black South African woman to reveal her HIV-positive status.
“We need young people who are passionate like Prudence, who are committed and who care deeply about the welfare of others, just like Prudence did. We need young people who will still stand up for the rights and dignity of the vulnerable and marginalised in the country, and young people who will challenge complacency and power,” Ramaphosa said.
He told mourners that Mabele challenged incompetence and arrogance, and the youth needed to do the same.
“She never stood back from speaking truth to power. She spoke of a vision of a South Africa of her dreams. It was a South Africa that had a healthcare system that met the needs of all South Africans, especially the poor,” Ramaphosa said.
Mabele’s personal doctor and friend Miranda Goma told mourners that her health began deteriorating in November, just before she was hospitalised. Despite recovering, she contracted a chest infection this year and was forced back into hospital. Goma said the infection led to her lungs collapsing before her death.
“I want to make it clear that Pru did not die a lonely death.
“She had her friends who have been supporting her via telephone, physically and spiritually,” Goma said.