Former Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale has called on South Africans to always remember the countries that helped our country fight the apartheid government and helped us attain freedom.
Addressing mourners at the funeral of his late friend and former MK operative Shadrack Spondo Rikhotso in Giyani recently.
Mathale first heaped praise on the late leader saying: “We are meeting here this morning to bid farewell to the mortal remains of a freedom fighter, an organizer, and mostly, a committed revolutionary to the end, comrade Spondo Rikhotso. Although we are mourning the death of this giant, we are also celebrating his well-lived life, which he selflessly shared with the people of South Africa.”
“When the indigenous masses of our beloved country were harassed, oppressed and marginalized on the basis of their skin colour, cde Spondo joint hands with others to fight for their liberation. He declared his availability to serve when it was dangerous to do so. He declared his availability to serve knowing very well those prospects of living were very remote. He declared his availability to serve without expecting any reward or material benefit,” he said.
He described the late leader as brave and said his bravery made the leadership of MK to give him more responsibilities.
“He grew within the ranks of MK and executed every given task as per instruction. The fact that he was even deployed to the East Germany and the Soviet Union, Russia, for advanced military training clearly demonstrate the value of his credentials in the ranks of MK.”
Mathale said people should not forget that freedom in South Africa did not come cheap.
“We should never forget that our freedom did not come through dialogue alone. But it also came through torture, disappearance and killings of our people, including incarceration of our leaders,” he said.
Then he heaped praise on countries that backed the struggle against the apartheid government. “It was during that period that some countries supported us while others backed the apartheid regime. Russia, Cuba and all communists aligned countries supported our course. Scandinavian countries, the civil rights movement and our sister African countries played a crucial role in supporting the struggle for our liberation,” he said.
He said the remains of many freedom fighters are still buried in some of these countries.
“To us, the Russians, Cubans and Chinese are brothers and sisters who offered a helping hand at the critical hour. Our most trusted weapon, AK 47 was produced and supplied to us by Russia. We will never forget the decisive heroic role played by Cuba at the historic battle of Cuito Cuanavale, which we are celebrating its 30th anniversary this year,” he said
He added: “The Russians and Cubans who perished here in Africa assisting in liberating the oppressed masses of this Continent did not die in vain, for we will always remember and celebrate their gallant contribution to our ultimate agenda for freedom.”
Mathale said the late leader met his wife Fikile in the struggle.
He also hailed Rikhotso for his role after South Africa attained democracy.
“He played an important role in the construction of a new democratic South Africa. He served our country with humility, passion and dedication. We have lost a true soldier and a covert operator of many talents,” said Mathale.
Giving eulogy on behalf of the ANC, MEC for cooperative governance, housing and traditional affairs Jerry Ndou gave condolences to the family on behalf of the family.
Other speakers included John Ngobeni on behalf of the MK Military Veterans Association and Jerome Maake on behalf of the MK Military Veterans Council.