Slain university ‘fighter’ lived and died in red
Family and colleagues pay tribute to student who was shot during a clash with security guards last week
Mlungisi Madonsela died the way he lived: fighting in his red Economic Freedom Fighters T-shirt.
The Durban University of Technology student, who was shot in the stomach during clashes between students and private security on the Steve Biko campus last week, was remembered at a memorial service on Tuesday.
His uncle, Xolani Ncanana, described Madonsela as a young man filled with hopes and dreams, and a desire to uplift the plight of his family in Jozini, northern KwaZulu-Natal. He was also a fighter, right down to supporting the student arm of the party with that very word in its name.
“He always used to say: ‘I will work for this EFF until I die.’ And this came true because he died wearing his EFF T-shirt,” Ncanana said during an emotional tribute.
Speaking at his memorial, Ncanana spoke proudly of his nephew’s dedication to the fight for free education, and told students not to give up on this dream.
“He decided to leave home early [in January] to go help students. Little did we know we were saying goodbye to him ... The struggle still continues, up until we get free education,” he said.
Ncanana, who was accompanied by Madonsela’s sisters, aunts and uncles, thanked students, the EFF and DUT staff for their support.
“Thank you for coming here to celebrate Mlungisi’s life. He was a fighter,” he said. “It’s not easy, as you can tell. As a family we have trained our moods to be stronger than our emotions so we don’t lose ourselves.”
Also paying tribute to Madonsela was DUT student representative council president Sesiyanda Godlimpi, who echoed Ncanana’s sentiments. He shared stories of Madonsela’s time in the EFF Student Command.
“He was the one who used to wake us up in the morning and say: ‘Comrades, it’s bad on campus. Let’s go fight for the 30,000 students waiting for us’,” recalled Godlimpi.
The final-year business administration student’s memorial was attended by various EFF leaders, including provincial chairperson Vusi Khoza and member of parliament Marshall Dlamini.
Khoza said Madonelsa would still be alive if the ANC-led government had behaved differently.
“We are here [at the memorial] because the ANC and its government lied and told us there is free education. If there was indeed free education, Mlu would be alive and at school,” said Khoza.
Dlamini – who was recently thrust into the spotlight after he was caught on camera slapping a security officer following the State of the Nation address – said: “We are dying at the hands of our government. Mlungisi would be alive if they had listened to us [on how free education would be funded].”
Other speakers at the memorial included Madonsela’s friends and classmates, who described him as a caring person who was a bit of a joker.
“He liked playing around and joking. Sometimes he would tease you just to get a reaction from you and make you laugh,” said Aduduzo Jali, a friend and classmate.
Zinhle Majozi, a friend who lived in the same student residence, said Madonsela was a warm spirit who made sure everyone at the res was taken care of.
“If I didn’t have food he would help me out. We have suffered a great loss because he was like a brother to us, a brother you have known your whole life,” said Majozi.
“Mlu was a person who could bring people together. No one at res can say they don’t know Mlu’s warm hugs,” she added.
Ncanana called on various stakeholders and students to make sure justice was done for his nephew. No arrests have been made in connection with his death.
“We are appealing to SAPS to play their part. At the end, justice must be done,” he said. “We are also appealing to the management of DUT to do their part so that Mlungisi is the first and last [to die].”
Madonsela will be laid to rest in Jozini on Thursday.