- Late leader described as a selfless servant of the people
There were tears of sorrow and disbelief yesterday afternoon, then emotional singing, as members of the ANC descended on Leslie Molalenyane Hall in Bloemfontein to pay their last respects to the late Ndleleni Donvolo, a former regional leader of the ANC Youth League and businessman.
News of the sudden passing of Donvolo hit the social networks on Sunday soon after he was knocked down by a motorist in a hit and run accident in Mangaung during the wee hours of the morning.
Donvolo, who is survived by his wife, children and family, will be laid to rest in Botshabelo, 61 kilometres outside of Bloemfontein on Sunday.
During a moving memorial service to commemorate his life, which was attended by ANC provincial secretary Paseka Nompondo, executive committee members Thembeni Nxangisa and Olly Mlamleli, the mood was sombre at first before becoming electric with the singing of revolutionary liberation struggle songs befitting of a departed cadre.
Described as a gallant fighter, peace maker, humble servant of the people, and a loyal selfless member of the ruling party, Donvolo was hailed for ever been a jolly person who could not get angry for long.
Speakers after speaker described him as a very humble individual that was always ready and willing to take on the problems of others and turn them into his.
They said his love of the ANC became vivid each time he was summoned to a meeting and had to leave friends and family enjoying his warm company in limbo.
Charles Mgwadleka, who led Donvolo in the regional ANC youth league of Motheo as deputy chairperson, while the late was the regional secretary, praised him for having being a peace broker of note.
“He would demand peace from even our own comrades who stood on opposites regarding organisational issues. The main objective of our leadership then was to raise youth issues to priority levels within the organisation and I want to believe he achieved that,’ said Mgwadleka.
He added: “I will remember him as a loyal and humble servant person with a great sense of humour.”
Donvolo was also remembered as a person one could call in their darkest hour and get a sympathetic ear, never saying he can’t do something but always undertaking to see how best to navigate the challenge presented to him.
Paying tribute to Donvolo, Tiisetso Makhele from the Premier’s Office recited a Sotho poem speaking of how the good are taken and the rot of gossip mongers and wedge drivers left behind.
He said Donvolo earned being called a cadre because of the revolutionary humility and discipline he espoused as a member of the ANC.
“He understood humility and that the struggle was not for his personal gain. The life he lived was not in vain; his revolutionary patience and humility earned him the title of a cadre. A revolutionary may be gone but the revolution continues,” he noted.
The entire regional leadership of the ANC youth league at the time, which served with Donvolo in championing youth issues in the province, were also present for the memorial service to honour their comrade.
Notable among them was Ernest Lempetje, a former member of the ANC Youth League regional executive, Vusi Soxaka, former chairperson, Themba Ndlela, former secretary and Lulama Titi, who was serving as the deputy secretary during Donvolo’s tenure.
A touching moment during the memorial service was when a teenage girl clad in traditional Xhosa regalia recited a monologue in which she appealed to the mourning Donvolo family to accept that their loss is part of the many that are happening each day in life, and to put their trust in the Almighty for comfort and healing during this trying time.
In a lighter moment Selibeli, one of Donvolo’s close friends, described how he met his widowed wife, Meisie Donvolo, after taking up tennis as a sport.
Mourners momentarily forgot they were at a memorial service when Selibeli revealed he realised Donvolo had told Meisie his name was ‘Justice,’ something he said he became aware of when Meisie approached him to ask if he had seen Justice, sending the congregation into a burst of laughter.
The late Donvolo, who was recruited into the ANC by the late party member Tankiso Chabane, was also hailed as a bond that kept the then youth league in the region united and vibrant during his time as branch secretary.
Also there to show respect for Donvolo was the regional secretary of the ANC Women’s League Mapaseka Nkoane, former MEC Oupa Khoabane as well as SA’s youngest Member of Parliament (MP) and president of learner organisation Cosas, Itumeleng Ntsube.