Funeral arrangements are afoot in the Eastern Cape in preparation for the funeral of African National Congress (ANC) veteran, Mama Dideka Mhlaba (85) - wife of the late Rivonia Treason trialist and ANC stalwart Raymond "Oom Ray" Mhlaba.
Since the news of her death, tributes have been pouring from throughout the country, with the Mhlaba family in Port Elizabeth being inundated with messages of condolence. The ANC in the Eastern Cape has been working closely with the Mhlaba family, in consultation with ANC Luthuli House headquarters on funeral arrangements, which will be made public in due course.
The passing of Mama Mhlaba at her home in Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth, on Monday morning (18 January 2010) is being mourned throughout the Eastern Cape. She suffered diabetes and high-blood pressure.
Ma Dixie - as she was affectionately known - will be remembered for her gentle smile, being humble, love and concern for other people. Like her husband who was Eastern Cape Premier and ambassador to three African countries, she served the people of the Eastern Cape with distinction.
She was born and went to school in Grahamstown. She met Oom Ray in the 1960s. The two made history when they exchanged wedding vows in Pollsmoor Prison in 1986. Oom Ray, a long-serving ANC political prisoner, was incarcerated on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela following the historic Rivonia Treason trial.
Ma Dixie and Oom Ray`s romance endured all challenges and years of separation. The two were finally reunited when he was released from prison in 1989.
In 1994 Ma Dixie became Eastern Cape`s First Lady when Oom Ray was appointed the province`s first premier. During this time she served as president of Florence Matomela Foundation. She was also an active member of the ANC Women`s League and dedicated her time to the development of children and students.
Oom Ray was appointed South African High Commissioner to Uganda in 1997 and then Ambassador to Burundi and Rwanda. Both he and Ma Dixie returned from public service and retired in Port Elizabeth in 2001.
The family would like to thank all extended family, friends and comrades for their words of sympathy and support at this difficult time.
Ma Dixie is survived by four children, nine grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
ANC Eastern Cape Spokesperson
082 55 99 008