Sicelo Shiceka was born on 8 June 1966 in the village of Ingquza Hill, near Flagstaff, Lusikisiki in the Eastern Province (now Eastern Cape)
His greatest influence was his grandfather, a warrior of the 1960 Pondo revolt against the Bantu Authorities Act, who fled to Lesotho after an engagement in which helicopter-borne apartheid security forces killed 11 and injured many more. Ten of the leaders were found guilty of treason and hanged in Pretoria. His grandfather died in Lesotho, and Shiceko later arranged for his bones to be exhumed and buried at home. Shiceka was also influenced by his uncle, who died in exile after joining Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK).
His father died when his mother was still pregnant with him. She was a nurse at Holy Cross Hospital, but had to give up nursing when she became pregnant. She left him when he was six months old to find work in Johannesburg. He stayed in the village, herding cattle and goats, becoming a good stick fighter and a popular leader among his peers.
He attended Mhlanga Primary School in Lusikisiki. In 1979, he joined his mother, who by that time was working as a nursing assistant at an old-age home in Soweto. He then went to Jabulani Junior Secondary School, where he quickly became a leading figure in student politics. In 1980, he was elected chairperson of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) in Soweto. His mother sent him to stay with his sister in Durban where he matriculated at Inanda High School.
He moved back to Soweto where he became a leader of the Azanian Students' Movement, which was affiliated to Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo). In 1987, after being elected to the Azapo leadership, Shiceka was shot and badly wounded by a man suspected of being hired by the police to target Azapo leaders.
In 1989, he was recruited as an organiser for the Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers' Union and a year later, he was elected provincial secretary. In 1991, he was elected Chair of the inner-city branch of the South African Communist Party (SACP) in Johannesburg, and several years later a member of the Central Committee of the SACP. In 1993, he was made Deputy Chairman of the East Rand region of the African National Congress (ANC) and, after the first democratic elections in 1994, he became MEC for Local Government in Gauteng. In 1996 Shiceka served as a member of the ANC's provincial executive committee in Gauteng.
In the run-up to the ANC’s conference in Polokwane in 2007, he mobilised support for (now President) Jacob Zuma in Gauteng. At the conference, he became a member of the ANC’s national executive committee.
In 2008, he was appointed as the Minister of the Department of Provincial and Local Government, subsequently the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in May 2009. During his tenure in office, he is credited with conceptualising the establishment of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). Shiceka introduced the Municipal Systems Bill, which earned him enemies in the ANC, SACP and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
According to political analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana, “The [Bill], which was spearheaded by him, was very unpopular because political parties could no longer deploy their cadres into top municipal positions and this caused him a lot of enemies,” said Ndletyana. “He was a very dedicated Cabinet minister and showed a lot of energy and had a strong grasp of local government issues. It was under him that a new turnaround strategy and audits into municipalities were done. He was thorough, honest and courageous.”
In 2010, he was involved in what was referred to as a "domestic incident" at a house in Pretoria. Speculation was that the enraged partner of a woman he was having an affair with had beaten him up. He sustained serious head injuries and, from that point, his life, both private and public, began unravelling.
According to a Sunday Times report, Shiceka allegedly flew family and girlfriends using public funds. During the trip to Switzerland, Shiceka spent R335 000 flying first class with his personal assistant and further spent R32 000 to hire a chauffeur-driven limo for the prison visit. Shiceka strongly denied, that had used taxpayers' money to visit a girlfriend serving time in a Swiss prison for a drug offence.
In February 2011, Shiceka went on sick leave. While on leave he allegedly tried to get his department to pay a hotel bill for his stay in Maseru, Lesotho, where he spent four nights with his mother and bodyguard, Bheki Mthethwa after which the bill was inflated from R25 277 to R357 120. Shiceka allegedly booked himself in under a false name. In October 2011 after he was accused by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela of spending more than R1-million in travel expenses for himself, staff and friends””in violation of the executive ethics code As a consequence, Shiceka was relieved of his ministerial duties by President Jacob Zuma on October 2011.
Shiceka passed away on 30 April 2012 in the Eastern Cape.
1980: Branch Chairman, Congress of South African Students,
1989: Organiser, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union,
1990: Provincial Secretary, PPWAWU,
1991: Deputy Chair, Johannesburg branch, South African Community Party,
1992: Provincial Secretary, COSATU,
1994-99: Gauteng Member, MEC for Development Planning and Local Government,
2007: Political Committee, ANC NEC,
2008-09: Minister of Provincial and Local Government,
2009 to 2011: Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
• SAPA.(2012). Sicelo Shiceka dies from Times Live [online]. Available at www.timeslive.co.za. Accessed on 8 May 2012
• Boshomane L. (2012). Minister Sicelo Shiceka dies after long illness from The New Age online. Available at www.thenewage.co.za. Accessed on 8 May 2012
• Molele C. (2012). Shiceka: Death of a self-contradictory comrade from the M&G online. Available at www.mg.co.za. Accessed on 8 May 2012
• Davis G. (2012), Former minister Shiceka dies from IOL News online. Available at www.iol.co.za. Accessed on 8 May 2012.