Provincial funeral for Struggle activist Derrick McBride as he is laid to rest in Durban
This was among the tributes about the life and times of McBride from his Struggle friend, a former SANDF surgeon general Lieutenant-General Vejay Ramlakan during his funeral service at Durban’s City Hall.
McBride died on Monday in Durban, aged 88. He was accorded a provincial funeral.
More than 1000 mourners listened attentively to Ramlakan while he reminisced about McBride’s active role in the struggle for liberation.
Both Ramlakan and McBride were inseparable when they were incarcerated on Robben Island as political prisoners because of their MK operation. They “got on like a house on fire”.
Their duties were to keep the Island’s garden beautiful.
“We have before us a towering giant of the liberation Struggle - a man who understood that truth is colour blind.
“He was a selfless, fearless man. He often stressed that one could not call himself a leader when there is a sea of poverty and unemployment in a country as rich as ours,” he said.
Ramlakan said McBride called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) a “window dresser” because it never disclosed anything. He said McBride did not obey prison rules - on a hot day he would wear shorts which were not allowed on the island.
“He shared an idea of escaping using a boat after his son Robert was on death row in Pretoria; he wanted to save him,” Ramlakan said.
Robert McBride thanked the ANC for affording his father a provincial funeral. He said his father made a conscious decision to join the Struggle and that he had to follow in his footsteps because it was in their family’s DNA.
Among the funeral attendees were members of the KwaZulu-Natal ANC leadership which was led by Premier Sihle Zikalala. Struggle songs reverberated through the hall when the uMkhonto Wesizwe band sang revolutionary songs.
When Zikalala paid his last respects to the fallen hero, he said McBride could have chosen to look away but he chose the most difficult route.
McBride sacrificed everything, including his family, for freedom. McBride would have challenged the ANC to accelerate the pace of land reform to restore the dignity of the poor.
“He would also warn us not to foolishly auction state-owned enterprises to the highest bidder who is unlikely to have the interest to lift the masses from grinding poverty.”
Zikalala said, both McBride and his son were willing to lay their lives for the love of the country.
“They went to prison, suffered torture, lost income and were vilified. A tormenting experience.”
Family members then proceeded to a private ceremony at a crematorium.