A great loss: Mluleki George leaves a legacy as an activist and leader
As one of the most respected and revered sports administrators, he set an example that current leaders could learn from
To the rest of SA he was a renowned sports administrator and anti-apartheid activist who contributed to the country’s democracy but to his three children, Mluleki George was a present father who always “showed up” and loved them and their mother Nonkundla unconditionally.
This was the picture that his three daughters, Vuyokazi, Ziyanda and Zanele, painted at George’s virtual provincial category 2 state funeral on Tuesday.
He was afforded the provincial state funeral by President Cyril Ramaphosa after a request from premier Oscar Mabuyane because of the role he played in the liberation of SA.
George died at the Morningside Medi-Clinic in Johannesburg from Covid-19 complications last week. He was 72.
In recorded tributes, Vuyokazi, Ziyanda and Zanele described him as a loving father.
“Tata to us was a present father. He had so much time for us. Maybe it’s something that we took for granted growing up. As busy as Tata was, he always made time. Tata was always showing up throughout our lives.
“Tata was a worker — a doer. He wanted things to be done and done right,” Ziyanda said.
May our endeavours on the field and off it honour him. This is a major loss to the whole of SA. We are lucky for him to have shared his time with us. His contribution to sport from grass roots to professional level will never be forgotten.Sascoc president Barry Hendriks
Vuyokazi agreed. “You taught us everything. You loved us, loved our children and our husbands. It’s painful but we are letting you go. Rest in peace,” she said.
His last born, Zanele, thanked George for loving them and their mother.
“You celebrated all my achievements no matter how small they were. Thank you, Tata.”
Nonkundla also thanked him for loving her. She promised to fulfil his dreams and said she was letting him go. “We will meet again in the next life,” she said, adding they always thought she would die first.
George’s younger sister, Thembakazi, thanked him for being more than a brother.
She said George always had teary eyes when he recalled how their father asked him to look after his siblings before he died. “He was a father to us, he was a mentor. We thank him for all he did for us.”
George’s grandchildren, Siya and Aqhama, described him as “an angel before you became one”.
“A part of me is sad that I never got to say goodbye but I know you will always be here and a part of our lives. I love you Tatomkhulu.”
George was a founding member of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in 1983.
He was arrested and sentenced to five years on Robben Island for his activism. After the 1994 elections, he was elected as an ANC MP. In 2008, he defected to form COPE with other unhappy ANC members.
Finance MEC Mlungisi Mvoko described George as an organic intellectual who belonged to a rare breed of leaders. “Tshangisa was a battle-tested revolutionary.”
After serving his five-year sentence, George came out more determined to fight the apartheid system, Mvoko said.
George was a trusted leader with whom one could go to war, he said.
The MEC said today’s leaders should take lessons from George and not abuse political power.
When the ANC had self-corrected, George returned to the party, Mvoko said.
Paying tribute to George, Mthobi Tyamzashe, a special adviser to sport minister Nathi Mthethwa, described the anti-apartheid activist as a brother, friend and leader.
“Tshangisa and I never discussed what role we would play in each other’s funerals because we are not very emotional people. However, I know Tshangisa would question me [if I did not speak at his funeral]. He was truly one of a kind.”
Tyamzashe said George’s children should take comfort in the knowledge that the times he was not around while they were younger, he was contributing towards building SA — a contribution for which he would forever be remembered and appreciated.
“Tshangisa loved his wife, usisi Nonkundla, and children, the three girls.”
Tyamzashe said he met George during their club rugby playing days in Ginsburg, King William’s Town.
They were later elected to the leadership of King and District Rugby Union, before George was elected to positions in provincial and national rugby.
He also led the National Sports Council, among many leadership roles he held in sport.
“He led from the front. His appeal was across racial lines.”
Sascoc president Barry Hendriks praised George for the role he played in shaping the policy direction SA took.
He described George as a giant and one of the most revered sports administrators SA had produced. “We must make sure that we honour his legacy. The many different roles he played was amazing and is very much appreciated.
“Cricket in SA is indebted to Mr George. May our endeavours on the field and off it honour him. This is a major loss to the whole of SA. We are lucky for him to have shared his time with us. His contribution to sport from grass roots to professional level will never be forgotten.
“Hamba kahle leader,” he said.
George was laid to rest at his home village, Qongqotha, in King William’s Town.