Eulogy by His Excellency, President of the Republic of South Africa, President Jacob Zuma, at the funeral service of Advocate Mvuseni Edward Ngubane, at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre
18 May 2012
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr Jeff Radebe;
Honourable Chief Justice and JSC Chairperson, Mogoeng Mogoeng;
Heads of various courts in South Africa;
National President of the Black Lawyers Association (BLA),
The entire Ngubane family;
Ladies and gentlemen
Greetings on this sad occasion of paying tribute and bidding farewell to one of the finest legal brains in the country, Advocate Mvuseni Edward Ngubane.
We learned with great sadness of the tragic demise of this beloved advocate, who was highly respected in the legal profession and in society at large.
He still had many years ahead of him in his family and professional life. His untimely demise was certainly a great tragedy.
The loss is not suffered only by his family, but the entire legal profession, the country at large and our broader national transformation agenda.
Ladies and gentlemen;
We recall many key milestones in the legal career of this activist human rights lawyer. As we adopted the Interim and ultimately our current democratic Constitution in 1996, we had to embark on a tricky, painful but necessary journey of Truth and Reconciliation.
Advocate Ngubane availed his valued services to about 150 families during the TRC hearings. He will also be remembered as a mediator par-excellence, who had insight into conflict resolution. We recall that he played a key role in the resolution of conflicts in the taxi industry which had led to the death of many people.
This was after he was appointed by the MEC for Transport in KwaZulu-Natal, to deal with the challenges of taxi violence. He was therefore contributing in many ways to peace, democracy and the rule of law in this country.
When there was a challenge with regards to the sphere of Local Government at the Abaqulusi Local Council, the investigation report that he had co-authored as co-chairperson of the team investigating the municipality led to the dissolution of the Council.
Subsequent to the dissolution, an Administrator was appointed to run the municipality which was an unprecedented act in the history of our local government. As part of his insight into political and labour activism, he convened and chaired the Special Tribunal set up by the MEC of Health in KwaZulu-Natal, which speedily resolved the dispute of 1 000 nurses who were on strike.
Advocate Ngubane also had outstanding leadership skills at an organisational level. This was demonstrated in his tenure as the Chairperson of the Black Lawyers Association in Durban for two consecutive terms, and later its President again for two consecutive terms from 2001 to 2005.
He also served two terms as Co-Chair of the Law Society of South Africa. The life of Advocate Ngubane was intertwined with the transformation of our legal system and the transition from apartheid into the new dispensation.
It is therefore not surprising that he was earmarked as Secretary of the Commission on the Strategic Arms Procurement process known as the Arms Deal Commission.
He would have handled this assignment as diligently as all other assignments he had been given. Advocate Ngubane was a gentleman and a true patriot, a dedicated legal practitioner who used his expertise to make a difference in the lives of many, and to take forward the transformation of our country.
Therefore as we endeavour to build a new society premised on the values of unity, non-racialism, non-sexism, democracy and prosperity for all, Advocate Ngubane’s activist legacy shall remain a guiding light on our responsibilities as individuals.
His determination to extend justice to all fits well with our determination to the expansion of access to justice to all in our country, including the poor and marginalised. In his memory, as government we affirm our commitment to advance the ideals of our country’s Constitution at all times.
The Constitution is South Africa’s fundamental vision statement, which guides our policies and actions.
Also important is the expansion of access to justice, something Advocate Ngubane believed so strongly in. Over the next three years, government, through the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development will spend 2, 5 billion rand on the construction of courts and other infrastructure projects.
A further R87 million will be spent on day to day maintenance and R265 million on the rehabilitation of court facilities. And there are currently nine on-going projects involving the construction of new courts and office accommodation that will improve South Africans' access to justice.
These are some of the measures that progressive lawyers such as Advocate Ngubane pushed for, as they wanted to see improved efficiency in courts, and also expanded access to justice for the poor.
Ladies and gentlemen;
The life of this friend, compatriot and comrade that we are laying to rest today, who was occupied not only with fulfilling personal interests, but in advancing the aspirations of the entire society, typified a South African we must all aspire to.
While we all feel the pain and shock of his untimely and tragic demise, his immediate family, including his wife and dear children, feel the pain even more.
To the family, Sithi akwehlangalungehli!
On behalf of our government and the people of South Africa, we convey our deepest condolences you all.
May his soul rest in peace! Hambakahle Mbomvu!
I thank you!
Issued by: The Presidency
18 May 2012
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