Wreath laying ceremony held for Chabane

The late Public Service and Administration Minister died in a car crash on Sunday morning.

Public Service & Administration Minister Collins Chabane died in a car crash at the weekend. Picture: Christa van der Walt/EWN

POLOKWANE/PRETORIA - Party members, district mayors and struggle veterans have arrived at the ANC's Limpopo headquarters in Polokwane with bouquets for a wreath laying ceremony to honour late Public Service and Administration Minister Collins Chabane.

He was killed along with two bodyguards, Lesiba Sekele and Lawrence Lentsoane, in a car crash between Polokwane and Mokopane in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha told those gathered outside the party is in mourning.

He says the late minister possessed the best qualities of ANC leaders.

"Comrade Collins would always come with very incisive, pointed and focused solutions to our problems. He was a wonderful listener and a strategist - he was a political connoisseur."

Chabane, an uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) soldier, was described as a brave man.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister in The Presidency, Buti Manamela, says he's been left traumatised after being the first person to arrive on the scene where the minister his two protectors were killed.

Manamela arrived on the scene of the crash identified the three bodies.

He says he still finds it difficult to describe how he felt as he drove to the scene of the crash.

"As I drove to the scene I just could not believe it. I just thought there's no way that this happened. A lot of things were going through my mind."

The deputy minister says the mangled wreckage of Chabane's official car will be hard to forget.

"To see the car, the condition in which it was and to know that it was his car and then to also go and identify him was the most painful thing."

Manamela says South Africa has not only lost a good public servant but also a revolutionary and an outstanding musician.

The truck driver believed to have caused the crash on the N1 highway was meanwhile expected to appear in court on Tuesday.

ZUMA: CHABANE LIKE A SON

President Jacob Zuma described the late minister as a son.

He said Chabane was more than just a colleague.

"To me, he was like a son. I'd known him when he was 17-years-old. I was part of those who made him join the ANC and prepared him, politically and militarily, as an MK cadre and also prepared him for government."

The president inadvertently broke the news of Chabane's death to his wife.

"I made a mistake because I think I was really shaken. His wife had not received the message and I also spoke to his son. Only later I realised they must have been saying what's the president talking about?"

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Democratic Alliance (DA) Member of Parliament (MP) Jerome Maake, who grew up with Chabane, described him as a very militant, politically active and brave man.

Maake says they were young men when they dedicate their lives to the struggle.

"There was no question of being afraid or not being afraid because in the first place, even before he left the country, he knew what we were going to be facing. He was a very brave young man."

Father S'milo Mngadi from the Roman Catholic Church said the late minister was a workaholic.

"He was a good public servant and an ethical one. You really feel a loss when people like him die."

The South African Policing Union (Sapu)'s Oscar Skommere says Chabane's guidance will be sorely missed during the upcoming public service negotiations.

"To better the salaries of public servants, we needed him most."

TOP OFFICIALS VISIT SEKELE FAMILY

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega are among the delegation visiting the family of sergeant Sekele in Akasia, Pretoria.

The bereaved family was comforted by a delegation of political heavyweights, including Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi.

The mood was somber.

Sekele family spokesperson Amos Mananyetso said they were still battling to digest the news.

"He was a responsible guy. Whenever there was a problem in the family, he was the first person I would call."

Sekele had been working for Chabane since 2009.

He leaves behind a nine-year-old son, three-year-old daughter and his wife.