Joel Sibiya given official special provincial funeral category 2
Benson Ntlemo: The Village Voice
Limpopo MEC for economic development, environment and tourism Thabo Mukone has hailed the community of Mahatlane in the Collins Chabane Local municipality for producing a gallant fighter who fought for freedom.
Giving a eulogy during the funeral service for the late Joel Mbhazima Sibiya who died at Polokwane Hospital on April 4 after a short illness, Mukone who was representing Limpopo premier Chupu Mathabatha also thanked the Sibiya family for allowing the late Sibiya to make a contribution during the liberation struggle.
“There is a time you wanted to be with him, but he was not there for you as he was working for the whole country, we thank you,” he said in the village west of Giyani.
He said: “The baobab tree has fallen. Once again death has dealt us an unmitigated blow. Death has robbed us of a fountain of knowledge, wisdom, and inspiration.”
In the speech he read on behalf of Mathabatha, Mukone thanked president Cyril Ramaphosa for having accorded Sibiya a Special Provincial Official Funeral.
“We thank the President and our national government for recognising the qualitative contribution of Comrade Mbhazima Joel Sibiya in our struggle for freedom and democracy,” he said.
He said Sibiya grew up in conditions of rural poverty and underdevelopment, the conditions which were synonymous with a life of a Black person in South Africa.
He said these conditions were unacceptable for majority of the Black masses.
And the conditions were even worse for those who did not have education.
“It was for this reason that Comrade Sibiya accepted that one of the tasks of a revolutionary is to get a good education,” said Mukone.
He said: “It was not by mistake that his counterparts in the ANC Veterans League had given him the task of leading Political Education.
As a cadre responsible for political education in the ANC Veterans League, Comrade Sibiya lived by the congress mantra that, everything for the revolution and nothing against the revolution.
He would simplify this mantra he would say, everything for the people and nothing against the people.”
He said the late leader loved his people so much that he left the country to take up arms against the apartheid regime.
Sibiya who cut his political teeth in the Tzaneen area while a learner at Bankuna high school was to go to the then Turfloop University where he was given political materials by ANC veteran George Mashamba and Mavivi Myakayaka, now ambassador to Namibia who was a fellow student.
He was one of the students who participated in the pro-Frelimo rally in 1977 that saw the apartheid government’s Special Branch policemen get agitated against anyone who attended the rally.
Sibiya was later expelled from the university because his activism an opposition to apartheid.
He became an unqualified teacher in the Nkowankowa area and when the police continued to make life miserable for him because of constant harassment, he left the country to Mozambique to join the ANC in exile.
Assisted by Frelimo, he was assisted to go to Angola where he joined u’Mkhonto we Sizwe and underwent military training at Katengue, Benguela and Caxito MK camps.
In 1982 Comrade Joel was taken to the German Democratic Republic to do further advanced military and political training.
Mukone said Sibiya’s passion for education saw him work for ANC’s Radio Freedom in the period between 1984 to 1987.
“True to his first love and calling, in 1989 he was deployed to work as a teacher at the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College, which was an ANC school in Tanzania,” he said.
Upon his return from exile, Sibiya got himself a job as a teacher at Livha School in Thohoyandou, teaching History and English.
Between 2000 and 2004 he was elected to the ANC REC and SACP PEC in which he was both responsible for political education.
“In his honour and memory, we shall continue to open and widen the doors of learning, teaching and culture,” said Mukone.
He also served a term in the Council of Provinces as an MP in Cape Town.
He was generally regarded as a principled leader and as a result he was left behind while lesser mortals were chosen ahead of him to represent the ANC in parliament.
His funeral was attended by some of his comrade and the number could be more had it not been for the Convid -19 regulations to contend with.
Some of the ANC notables included deputy ministers Cassel Mathale and David Masondo, former Levubu-Shingwedzi Transitional Local Council’s mayor Rodwell Mashaba, for Vhembe District Executive mayor and his close relative Falaza Mdaka, MEC Phophi Ramathuba, Sibisi’s former learner Mukoni Ratshitanga and ANC veteran George Mashamba.
Sibiya is survived by his wife Suzan and four children.Khensani, Gillian, Lilly and Sam.