Gwede Mantashe heckled by ANC, MKMVA supporters at Kebby Maphatsoe’s funeral
Some in the group brandished firearms
ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe’s eulogy at Kebby Maphatsoe’s funeral was abruptly disrupted after a group stormed the venue, singing and carrying guns.
The group were dressed in regalia of the disbanded MKMVA and some carried ANC flags, seemingly calling for the release of former president Jacob Zuma. They refused to stop chanting even after they were ordered to.
They sang about Zuma's incarceration and “ulibambe lingashoni” (do not let the sun go down), alluding to retribution against those who had wronged someone.
Mantashe was, however, unfazed and remained on the podium. After the group had dispersed, he condemned their behaviour and defended his attendance at the funeral.
“Kebby gave me an honour and invited me to speak here. That is an honour in the ANC because we sometimes get a long list of who must not come. Kebby invited me to speak here and I must speak. If he did not want, a decision would have been taken for me not to,” he told mourners.
Programme co-director and former MKMVA member Bafana Mahlabe said the group’s behaviour was due to Zuma’s imprisonment.
“I think we must accept that spirits are high because the situation is not normal. As we speak, Zuma is in jail under very mysterious circumstances. Please let's understand but we shall not condone a behaviour like that just happened in which a person speaks and we come in. Comrade Mantashe we want to apologise, some things are beyond our control,” he said.
Hours before Mantashe's address, Maphatsoe's brother told mourners that one of his last wishes was for a few ANC heavyweights, including Mantashe and Zuma, to speak at his funeral and not be disrupted.
Mantashe said the group’s behaviour could only happen at an ANC meeting, and not at a funeral.
Maphatsoe was, in his last days, at loggerheads with the ANC over the disbandment of the MKMVA. Despite this, Mantashe hailed him as a disciplined cadre of the movement.
“Kebby to me was a loyalist to the ANC, even when he was abused and he spoke his mind. He understood that when you have different views you are not enemies, you just disagree on an issue and as you disagree, you have a responsibility to discuss that. He accepted that,” said Mantashe.
Maphatsoe was remembered as a loving, selfless and dedicated leader by all. Mantashe shared similar sentiments, saying he was a combination of a political, military and church leader.
“It’s quite a strange combination but Kebby mastered all three.”
ANC NEC member Ayanda Dlodlo was also on the list of speakers Maphatsoe requested. She gave a moving tribute saying disunity and factionalism had found a home in the party, adding that struggle veteran Oliver Tambo would have cried were he to have seen the ANC so broken and divided.