There will always be detractors, says IFP leader as he defends Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi
The chairperson of the IFP in KwaZulu-Natal has defended the legacy of the departed Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi saying he was a man of peace and reconciliation.
Thami Ntuli says Buthelezi spoke about reconciling his death aged 95 on Saturday morning at his home in Mahlabathini.
Ntuli was speaking outside the home of Buthelezi after leading a delegation of the IFP to mount with the Buthelezis.
The legacy of Buthelezi became a subject of fierce debate as soon as the news of his passing broke on Saturday morning.
Some dug into his past as leader of the Bantustan of KwaZulu, saying the IFP he led unleashed a reign of terror in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, leaving thousands dead and some nursing lifelong wounds.
Some said Buthelezi was a stooge for the National Party and it used him in its failed attempt to prevent South Africa from entering the new phase of democracy. Others reminded him of the Boipatong massacre while some KwaMashu residents in Durban reminded Buthelezi's supporters of the reign of terror hostel dwellers used to unleash to those living in the township.
Unfazed by this, Ntuli said Buthelezi was a man of peace.
"He was a leader with integrity, he was a leader who always advocated for reconciliation... I am part of the team which was formed to ensure that there is reconciliation in KwaZulu-Natal between the IFP and the ANC," Ntuli said.
He added that there will always be people who dispute.
"There will always be detractors, there will always be evil people even during these times who will not be honest with themselves... it's unfortunate," Ntuli added.
Also defending the legacy of Buthelezi was Wilson Ntshangase, the Mayor of Ulundi local municipality which is run by the IFP. He said Buthelezi is counted amount the heroes of liberation for South Africa and anyone disputing that is not well versed with modern history.
"When you speak about the liberation of South Africa, you are talking about the heroes who made us to be free today and you don't mention the name of uMntwana (Buthelezi) it means you are not honest.
"In fact, it means you don't know what you are talking about because among the sons of Africa, uMntwana is one of them, his name will never be forgotten," Ntshangase who sits in the IFP national executive committee said.
Petros Ngubane, a protege of Buthelezi who is the mayor of Umzinyathi district municipality, could not contain his tears when he spoke to IOL and broke down.
The interview had to be stopped.
"He was like a father, he paid for my studies to be a teacher after my parents passed away," Ngubane said briefly before breaking down in tears.
Another protege of Buthelezi, Mntomuhle Khawula, whose parents were close to Buthelezi also described as a father figure who taught him to be honest as a leader and put the people first.
"To him, the people came first and that is the legacy we want to take forward as his followers and the party," he said.
Meanwhile, the mood was sombre at the gigantic home of Buthelezi where mourners, mainly IFP leaders took turns and walking in to mourn the loss of the veteran leader. Among those spotted at the home was SCOPA chairperson, Mkhuleko Hlengwa, the Mayor of Alfred Duma (Ladysmith), Zama Sibisi, the Mayor of Nquthu Lindokuhle Shabalala.