The former South African High Commissioner to Uganda, Jon Qwelane, has been laid to rest in his hometown of Mahikeng, in the North West.

Qwelane, who was also a journalist and an activist, died on 24 December:


A dignified send-off 

Qwelane was granted a Special Provincial Funeral category two.

He worked for some big name newspapers and radio stations during his days as a journalist.

As an activist, he also challenged the repressive Bantustan laws in the Bophuthatswana homeland.

His family described him as a brutally frank person who did not fear to criticise the apartheid regime.

“What makes me happy today, is that, even though I feel that my deeds are not the same as his, but to him, my efforts were at this level. And I hope that this time. I’ve accompanied him to a very special place, maybe paradise, I don’t know,” says his son, Sobukwe Qwelane.

Qwelane’s cousin Mothusi Serache also sings his praises.

“He’s human. He’s done well and also erred as well. His work is known worldwide. We don’t doubt that.”

A fine journalist

North West Premier Professor Job Mokgoro hailed Qwelane as one of the finest journalists Mahikeng has ever produced.

“Here lies, a giant of a man, one of our own, a man who came from us, and went to make his mark in the world, through the love of his craft. He was an out and out newsman, Jon Qwelane. Clearly, he ranks amongst the finest, our town has ever produced, and his name will forever remain edged in the history books of this country.”

Commitment to serving the people

Other leaders challenged public representatives to commit to serving the people and not themselves.

“Greed has actually pre-occupied our minds than to serve the people and the communities. And we ask ourselves that, with the communities that are poor in the North West, what is it that we think the community must say about the organisation? And they understand that this greed is not of the organisation, but the individuals that are leading the organisation,” says ANC Women’s League’s Lenah Miga.

The 68-year-old Qwelane is survived by his wife, six children, 10 grandchildren, and six siblings.