Humane to his last breath, Mthembu sought to convince, not ...

Ideas

Humane to his last breath, Mthembu sought to convince, not destroy

SA is poorer having lost a good man, a patriot to the end, who freed so many people in so many ways

Columnist

Why have so many journalists, ANC members, opposition party players and others been so greatly touched by the sad death of minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu? Since Thursday, when the news came suddenly and painfully that he had died, there has been an outpouring of grief for this genial, genuine, hopeful man. Why was he special?

Let me add my bit to the many tributes. If there is anything Mthembu can do for us in this time of his tragic death — and the deaths of so many others every day — it is to remind us of who we are and how we can do better and be better. He was no saint, but he remained humane right up to his very last breath. Nelson Mandela’s words remind me of him: “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”

I shall speak, first, for myself. Mthembu has called me all kinds of names. At the height of the ANC’s attempt to muzzle the press during former president Jacob Zuma’s tenure, Mthembu called me ill-informed, little-prepared for the interview or debate we were engaged in, irresponsible and illiterate...

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