The Mompati family 

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa,

Former President Thabo Mbeki and Madame Zanele Mbeki at home,

Former President Kgalema Motlanthe and Madame Gugu Motlanthe,

Speaker of the National Assembly Ms Baleka Mbethe, Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Ms Thandi Modise and all Presiding Officers of Parliament and Members,

Honourable Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and Madame Mogoeng,

The Secretary General of the ANC, the National Officials and leadership at all levels,

Honourable Premier Supra Mahumapelo, Ministers, Premiers and Deputy Ministers, 

MECs, Mayors and Councillors from North West and all over the country,

Leadership of the SACP, Cosatu and SANCO,

Leaders of other political parties present,

Traditional and religious leaders

Mme Sophie Williams De Bruyn and all veterans of our struggle for liberation,

Comrades and friends

Fellow Africans,

Dumelang, sanibonani, molweni.

Only two months ago, we were here at Bokone Bophirima Province, and laid to rest the mortal remains of our stalwarts and icons of the liberation struggle, Comrade JB Marks and Comrade Moses Kotane. 

We have gathered here today again, sadly to pay our last respects to yet another icon of our struggle and a distinguished South African and patriot, Mme Ruth Segomotsi Mompati. 

Indeed, this province has produced outstanding leaders who make us truly proud to be South Africans and to be Africans.

We are gathered not only to mourn, but to celebrate her life which was totally dedicated to the struggle for freedom, justice, equality and the quest for a better life for all especially the poor. 

When people talk about Mme Ruth they are filled with joy and inspiration. That is because this proud African and progressive internationalist brought hope and progress in our lives and in our country.

Fellow mourners and fellow Africans and friends,

Today, just two days before Africa Day, we celebrate our African identity, and our pride at having produced such a selfless, committed, dedicated and much loved revolutionary and freedom fighter, as the African people in the African continent.

We testify without any fear of contradiction, that here lies a towering giant in the struggle for the freedom and democracy that we enjoy today, which came about through the blood, sweat and tears of thousands of our people, as well as many freedom loving people within Africa and the world.

Here lies an outstanding leader with an exemplary life which is an embodiment of the principles and values of the liberation movement.

She lived these values of unity, selflessness, sacrifice, collective leadership, humility, honesty, discipline, hard work and mutual respect. 

And here lies a leader who was totally committed to the vision of creating a truly united, non racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

Mama Ruth, we salute you.

You succeeded and made your mark in every task you were given by the liberation movement. And you never allowed obstacles to stand in your way.

Born in the rural village of Ganyesa here in Vryburg, Mme Ruth qualified as a teacher. 

Her first major frustration with the apartheid system was when she was barred from teaching simply because the then government did not allow married black female teachers to teach. 

Lest we forget, that is where we come from! Our country used to be a place where women were treated as subordinates who could not function outside of the supervision of men. This experience made Mme Ruth dedicate her life to fighting for the emancipation of women and for women’s rights to become recognised as human rights.

Due to the frustrations with the teaching profession, Mme Ruth moved to Johannesburg during the important year in the African National Congress (ANC) calendar, the year 1952, the year of the beginning of the Defiance Campaign.

She joined the ANC Orlando Branch and also joined the law firm of our leaders and symbols of selfless struggle, Presidents Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, as a secretary. 

This responsibility she discharged impeccably and with relative ease.

The few years that followed saw the Congress of the People in Kliptown which adopted the Freedom Charter, the Women's march to the Union Buildings and of course, the beginning of discussions and processes which led to the formation of uMkhonto weSizwe (MK). 

While working at the firm, she became involved in a variety of campaigns which led to her becoming a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC’s Women’s League.

Mme Ruth, together with Helen Joseph and Lillian Ngoyi, were also the founding members of the Federation of South African Women. 

Her involvement in these structures was because she understood that the might of oppression weighs heavily particularly on women. 

In 1956 Mme Ruth became very central in the organisation of what would become an enduring landmark in the history of our country, and that is the August 1956 march which was attended by over twenty thousand women of all races to demonstrate their disdain for the pass law. 

Mama Sophie Williams De Bruyn was among those brave women who refused to stand by while their right to equal citizenship was being denied by a cruel and vicious regime.

Mme Ruth became one of the first women to flee the country to join uMkhonto weSizwe in exile. She underwent her military training in the Soviet Union in 1963. 

In that vein, here lies a soldier in the true sense of the word, a soldier in the battle against tyranny and a soldier for peace and freedom.

After the banning of the ANC, Mme Ruth played a very critical role in the re-establishment of the organisation in the country and also in international mobilisation.

We recall a significant intervention she made in August 1992, in her address to the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid during the special day of International Solidarity with Women in South Africa. She cautioned the international community not to be blinded by the euphoria of the unbanning of organisations and the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners.

She told the world that the apartheid regime was continuing its reign of terror through state sponsored violence in the townships and that freedom had not yet dawned in South Africa. 

It was a significant intervention as that was the year of the Boipatong massacre and several other state sponsored violent incidents that were designed to derail our march to freedom and democracy. 

During the post democratic dispensation, she continued playing various roles in the advancement of our agenda of transforming the quality of life.

She also continued to promote unity and solidarity. On her election as Mayor of Naledi Municipality she used her position to unite what was once a divided society along racial lines into a united society committed to a common vision. 

As an ambassador representing her country abroad, she established relations for South Africa which remain strong to this day, such as during her posting to Switzerland. She had also established strong relations for the ANC and South Africa during her tenure as a chief representative of the ANC abroad during her period in exile.

Even in retirement, many years later Mme Ruth was involved in various community projects aimed at the upliftment of our people. 

It is this life that knows no rest and peace that led to the ANC in 2014 to bestow its highest honour of Isithwalandwe/Seaparankoe on Mme Ruth Mompati. 

This honour is reserved for the bravest warriors and those who distinguished themselves and who possess exceptional qualities of leadership and heroism. 

Government has also honoured her in various ways. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation bestowed on her the Lifetime Achievement award in the inaugural Ubuntu Awards in February this year. 

This province named the Ruth Mompati District municipality after her and also constructed a bust in her honour.

The North West University awarded Mama Ruth an Honorary Master’s Degree in Education in 1996. The then Medical University of South Africa (now called Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University) also awarded her an Honorary Doctorate. 

These are just a few accolades that demonstrate what an outstanding leader we have been fortunate enough to live and work with. The importance of all these accolades is that they were bestowed on her while she was still alive. She was able to appreciate how highly her people regarded her, during her lifetime.

The greatest honour we can bestow on Mme Ruth is for us to draw lessons from her life that will make us better human beings. 

This means that we should revive and promote in ourselves and in our communities the supreme ideals that she held dear. We should promote unity, respect for one another, patriotism, non-racialism, tolerance and equality for men and women.

I would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family, relatives, the organisation she loved with all her heart, the ANC and Alliance partners.

Allow me also to extend deepest condolences to the family on behalf of former President Mbeki. 

He has asked me to convey to the family that circumstances beyond his control have prevented him from bidding farewell in person, to this outstanding leader that he has worked with for many decades.

He wishes the family strength during this difficult period.

Fellow Africans,

We salute our mother, our leader, our teacher, a gallant fighter, a brave warrior, a true patriot and an outstanding South African and African.

Rest in peace Mama Ruth. You have fought a good fight, you have finished the race, and you have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)

Tsamaya sentle Kgabo Mokgatla wa ga ‘Ma Naana.

Magadimana ntweng! Majakgomo a sa gadime!


Hamba kahle qhawe lamaqhawe.

Siyohlale sikukhumbula sikuthanda njalo.

I thank you.

Issued by The Presidency, May 23 2015