On 12 February 2022 comrades and friends from all over South Africa came together to celebrate the life and work of MEJCON-SA Deputy Chair Busisiwe Bohale.
In South Africa, activist funerals have a proud history of being a space for collective healing from injustice, regrouping and bolstering the movement to resist.
Lazarus Mawela, an AZAPO Political activist who suffered forced relocations by the apartheid government, put it best when he said: “Political funerals of activists had an impact in mobilising the community and brought unity between the activists and the community.”
The occasion of Comrade Busisiwe’s funeral was an opportunity for MEJCON-SA to come together with Busi’s family, neighbours, community and other loved ones, to commemorate and celebrate the selfless work she did in pursuit of a better life for her community and others like it in South Africa.
Comrades from all over the country came to celebrate Busi’s life and mourn her death. On the day of her funeral the streets were packed with people waving banners speaking of justice, equality and dignity, while many houses and yards were decorated with flags calling for a better life for mining-affected communities. This sent a powerful message that comrades like Busi never walk alone.
In her tribute, the Chairperson of MEJCON-SA, Margaret Molomo, echoed this powerful message, challenging the youth to be inspired by Comrade Busi’s actions. She called on them to join and contribute to the social justice movement and the betterment of the lives of people living in mining-affected communities. Molomo went on to say that the loss of comrade Busi means that the movement needs youth like her now more than ever.
Speaking after the funeral, Katlego Malesa, MEJCON-SA Deputy Secretary said: “It was so amazing to be part of Busi’s funeral because Busi was not just our Deputy Chairperson but also an important member of a community of women who fought hard for their community, who worked tirelessly to see their community in a better state.”
Thabo Raliwedzha, MEJCON-SA Spokesperson, described Comrade Busi as a warrior who died knowing she made a mark in many people’s lives.
“She will always remembered by her devotion and dedication to her work as an activist,” he said.
Matome Kapa, Head of Activist Support and Training at the Centre for Environmental Rights added: “Death is a painful occurrence and it requires time and space for healing. It is important for mining-affected communities to know and understand that this movement is alive, it is resourced and most importantly it consists of people who are not only passionate about a better life for everyone but also passionate about each other. The funeral of our comrade was a space for different people from different walks of life, who all had their love for Comrade Busisiwe in common, to heal as a collective.”
“We cried, we sang, we danced and we gave a beautiful send off to our friend and comrade.”