President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged South Africans to emulate the late Ambassador Billy Modise, who he described as diligent and selfless.

President Ramaphosa was delivering the eulogy at Modise’s Special Official Funeral at the West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg on Thursday. The funeral was also attended by former Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe.

It was a dignified send-off for one of the country’s finest diplomats, Ambassador Billy Modise. Speaker after speaker described him as a committed freedom fighter with a generous and unassuming nature.

He was among the first diplomats in the democratic South Africa. He served as the country’s ambassador to Canada in 1995 and ended his career as the Chief of State Protocol at the Foreign Affairs Department in 2006.

Among the many accolades he received for his sterling work was the Order of Luthuli in Silver from former President Thabo Mbeki.

And today, he was praised for serving his people and the ANC for more than six decades.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says Ambassador Modise was a good example to emulate.

President Ramaphosa says: “Comrade Billy Modise brought diverse people together. He was firmly convinced that non-racialism was the only viable, morally defensible response to the divisive and destructive policies of apartheid. His commitment to this cause was matched by his determination that women and men should be free and equal in all areas of life. He fought for a society where gender would never again be a determinant of status, wealth or opportunity.”


The president also urged South Africans to follow in Ambassador Modise’s footsteps of dedicated and selfless serving.

And for his part, former President Thabo Mbeki said young diplomats should continue the sterling work of Ambassador Modise in forging relations with the rest of the continent and the international community.

Hailed as an internationalist who assisted greatly in South Africa’s integration into the international community, the Swedish Ambassador to South Africa Cecilia Julin, thanked Ambassador Modise for bringing the plight of the majority of South Africans to the attention of the Swedish government.

Tributes also came from his lifelong friend, Ambassador Barbara Masekela, and the Namibian Vice President Nangolo Mbumba, who brought a delegation from Windhoek – some of whom were students of the late Ambassador Modise.

He is survived by his wife Yolisa, daughter Thandi and grandson Kgosietsile.

Modise was laid to rest at Westpark cemetery in Johannesburg.