Ramaphosa pays tribute to Billy Modise
BILLY Modise, 87, was an internationalist who had firm principles which he presented clearly and acted on decisively, President Cyril Ramaphosa said at his funeral yesterday.
Ramaphosa said Modise taught people that human solidarity was universal.
“It mattered not where injustice and suffering were to be found, it was equally and always a concern to him.
“He felt the same anguish whether a child died from teargas in Gaza or in a pit toilet in Bizana.
“His principles compelled him and us to act to prevent such tragedy,” Ramaphosa said.
“His spirit of solidarity required that we do not accept the suffering of the Saharawi people in refugee camps any more than we accept families living in appalling conditions on the fringes of our cities.”
The president said Modise carried the message of South Africa’s liberation struggle across the world, which found resonance even among people who were far removed in both time and space from the troubles and the struggles of South African people.
“It was a message of human solidarity which defied borders and traversed oceans. It united the peoples of the world in declaring apartheid to be a crime against humanity and reinforced their resolve to struggle alongside the people of South Africa until they had won their freedom,” Ramaphosa said.
Former president Thabo Mbeki described Modise as a patriot who held a special place in South Africa’s history. He said for 63 years Modise was a loyal member and activist of the ANC.
Modise worked for the UN and later the ANC appointed him as its chief representative in Sweden.
He also served as the first black high commissioner of South Africa to Sweden from 1995 up until 1999 before he was appointed as the Chief of State Protocol.
Modise died on June 20 after a long illness. He was buried at the West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg.
FAREWELL: Thandiwe Modise, the daughter of the late Billy Modise, pays her last respects at Marks Park before the funeral proceedings.