Umkhonto weSizwe soldier Caroline Mashudu Bilankulu was buried like a heroine
The Village Voice
Matshidiso Bilankulu, who was the daughter of the late MK trained soldier Constance Mashudu Bilankulu caused a stir in Giyani on Saturday when she talked about her mother’s dreams which went unrealised until she went to the grave.
Speaking at a hugely attended funeral service at her Giyani Section A home, Matshidiso said, although her mother once trained as an MK cadre and was a committed ANC member until her death, she had a dream of owning a house.
“My mother who was only a volunteer for her whole life and never secured a permanent job, last year bought bricks after she got a temporary job. She had hoped to get more money so she would buy more bricks so she would build herself a decent house, but sadly the same bricks were used to build her grave, “said the daughter before she started weeping.
A sombre mood enveloped the event as many people were touched by the girl’s testimony a sorry indictment of how people who fought for liberation are being neglected in a democratic South Africa.
According to her obituary, the late leader had devoted her life to serving the community. She had been a volunteer for 17 years and was never employed in her life.
According to Matshidiso, her mother was once given an RDP house in 1998 but it has now become dilapidated.
Matshidiso talked in front of mourners who included her former colleagues in Umkhonto weSizwe Alec Nkuna and john Ngobeni.
In fact the woman was given the ultimate honour by the MK, the 21 gun salute.
Speaking representing the ANC, Nkuna who said: Ï have been sent by my ANC comrades chairperson Pule Shayi and secretary Goodman Mtileni to come and offer condolences on behalf of the ANC.”
Nkuna said it touched him when he found that Bilankulu devoted her whole life as a volunteer but was never employed by the government led by the ANC.
He said the late Bilankulu was recruited to join the ANC and the ANC during the difficult times.
“The Giyani police were always beating comrades and she had reported to us several unwelcome visits to the police to her home. At one time we went to find out why the police were harassing her, “said Nkuna.
He said the late woman was part of Umkhonto weSizwe’s last intake before the advent of democracy. She together with those who trained with her was used by the ANC in peace keeping and they were used as marshals in the run up to the democratic elections.
“When we recruited her, we made it a point to her that there was no reward, and the only reward was death, and she agreed and joined, “said Nkuna.
Nkuna said the only reward they expect for Bilankulu’s sacrifices was for the ANC government to provide quality services to the community.
He said the ANC does not belong to individuals and those individuals who fail to provide services but become arrogant must make way for others.
“We want water, and we do not want load shedding, “he said.
Ngobeni hailed her for her contributions to the liberation struggle and her services to the community as a volunteer thereafter.
“We came here to bury her as her former fellow combatants because we loved her and respected her contributions, “he said.
Many at the funeral service felt that she was not treated well by her party.
Her younger sister Thandi Bilankulu said her sister worked for the community with passion.
“Just as her daughter said, she wanted to have a good house but she died before raising money for it. She had a contract as a part time councilor and she died without knowing what it was like to have a permanent job, “said Thandi.
But she said she would always remember her sister for what she did as a community volunteer and an MK man until her death.
Although a big crowd attended the funeral service, local leadership in Giyani were conspicuous by their absence.
This is despite the fact that her high profile comrades who worked with her in MK came to pay her their last respects.