Many pay respect to struggle icon Rita Ndzanga at her funeral service in North West

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The Struggle Stalwart Rita Ndzanga has finally been laid to rest at the Ga Mogopa cemetery, near Ventersdorp, North West, on Saturday.

Political leaders, government officials and locals have bid their last farewell to the stalwart, during a funeral, in which Setswana cultural practices were upheld. One being that, all mourners, should have left the graveyard by midday.

The late struggle veteran has been accorded the Special Official Provincial Funeral Category 2 by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Her coffin was carried from her home by the leadership of the North West African National Congress.

Gauteng province MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi and former Minister of Provincial and Local Government, Sydney Mufamadi are among the many mourners who came to pay their final respect to the struggle hero.

‘Selfless lady’

Speaking at Ndzanga’s funeral, Lesufi says as the education sector, they would have to with high speed in ensuring that the history of struggle stalwarts, like Rita Ndzanga, is documented and preserved for generations to come.  Lesufi has also hailed her as a selfless lady who stood her ground even during the most trying times that the country faced during the apartheid era.

“We must move with speed some of us within the education space to ensure that the history of true South Africans is recorded and the history of true South African is learnt by our own children inside the classrooms so that a day like this should be a day for the few, it must be a day for all ordinary South Africans to know that here lies a hero of our struggle somebody who made it possible for you and me to be where we are.”

‘Beacon of hope’

North West Premier Bushy Maape says Ndzanga is deserving of a state funeral because she was a beacon of hope, during the country’s darkest times.

“Without any doubt, Mma Rita qualifies for a state funeral. She played a leading role, particularly during the difficult times of the mid-1960s and the 1970s, up until her death.

‘Fearless fighter’

African National Congress (ANC) representative Sydney Mufamadi has described the late struggle stalwart as a fearless fighter who stood by the leaders of the ANC even in her early years as a teenager.

Ndzinga died last week and was transported to her birthplace for an honourable burial which is also attended by hundreds of locals at Ga Mogapa village in the North West.

“In her, we had a veteran of many battles. She was there during the defiant campaign of 1952. She was there when our democratic present was envisioned in 1955. If you look at some of the publications of the ANC, historic wise like Sechaba you will see a young girl outside the court holding a placard written “Hands off, our Leaders” that was comrade Rita in 1956 during the prison trial.”

She was also remembered by her family, and her grandson as well as her great-grandchildren paid tribute to Ndzanga at the service.

On Thursday, the ruling party held a memorial service in honour of Rita Ndzanga at which former President of the ANC and South Africa, Thabo Mbeki delivered a keynote address.

The party remembers her as a “fierce unionist”, and notes her as having played a crucial role in the organising and formation of labour and women’s movements which resisted the former apartheid regime.