Ramaphosa: Ma Mbeki sought no glory or praise

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa paid tribute to the former community builder and leader.

Epainette Mbeki passed away at a private hospital in East London in the Eastern Cape, at the age of 98. Picture: KFM

DUTYWA, Eastern Cape - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says Epainette Mbeki was part of a generation that made sacrifices for the liberation struggle without seeking glory or praise.

He's paid tribute to the woman affectionately known as "Ma Mbeki" at her funeral in Dutywa today.

Former President Thabo Mbeki stands next to brother Moeletsi and grandson Karl. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

The mother of former President Thabo Mbeki died at an East London hospital last weekend at the age of 98.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says Epainette Mbeki was a community builder and a leader. He says she was part of a generation that challenged the status quo and made sacrifices in the struggle for liberation.

Ramaphosa says the struggle imposed a heavy burden on Mbeki's family life as her husband was imprisoned and her sons exiled.

Hundreds of mourners gathered at Epainette Mbeki's funeral in Dutywa, Eastern Cape, on 14 June 2014. Picture: YouTube.

Cabinet ministers and high profile South Africans were among the mourners who arrived here today to bid farewell to Ma Mbeki but towards the end of the service, officials decided to end the programme early as a precautionary measure because the marquee appeared to be taking strain amid strong winds.

After the service, Mbeki's South African flag-adorned coffin was carried to the grave by military officials.

Everyone was calmly led out of the tent and the procession has now made its way to the burial site.

Earlier today prayers, hymns and glowing tributes marked the start of the proceedings, with hundreds of mourners gathered under a white marquee erected on an open field on the outskirts of Dutywa.

Speaking at the service, Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle described Mbeki as a rare breed, a fearless fighter and someone who dedicated her life to serving others.

She played an important role among South Africa's liberation heroes, he said.

"Today we enjoy the sweet fruits of freedom because they gave up their own freedoms," said Masualle.

"Today we stand our heads bowed in front of Mama Nomaka Epainette Mbeki's coffin. We do so in honour of a selfless leader of our people."

Finally, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered a touching eulogy, pledging on behalf of government to continue Mbeki's hard work to better the lives of people in rural areas, especially women.

He said he would forever remain indebted to Ma-Mbeki, who "spent her life in the trenches in the just struggle for peace, freedom and democracy."

President Jacob Zuma could not make it to the event due to his ill health, but he authorised flags to be flown at half-mast in the province.