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News - Date: 21 May 2012
Written by: Elmon Tshikhudo / Viewed: 2319
A cloud of sadness is hanging over Vhembe and the Limpopo Province, following the death of well-known struggle stalwart, politician and former MEC George Phadagi over the weekend.
News of his death started filtering in early on Sunday but was officially announced on Sunday afternoon. After the news broke, tributes poured in from different quarters of the community.
Phadagi (60), who served as mayor, member of the national parliament and MEC for Public Works, Safety and Security and Liason, passed on after being treated in a hospital in Pretoria for two weeks.
He recently became a political casualty when Premier Cassel Mathale reshuffled his cabinet and was serving as a special advisor to the premier at the time of his death.
Well-known Limpopo politician Mr Joe Maswanganyi said Phadagi had introduced many people to the policies of the ANC. He referred to Phadagi as a fearless revolutionary, who defied the apartheid regime and risked his life when many dared not speak out against apartheid. "We aregreatly saddened by his death. Death robbed us of someone who was always ready to fight selflessly for others, someone who was always ready to help; he was our source of inspiration," he added.
Vho-Thovhele Kennedy Tshivhase, one of Venda's senior traditional leaders, said he had known Phadagi since 1986, while he was leading the Far North Youth Congress. "We worked together in those years, and we continued to work together in different spheres of government."
On behalf of the Makhado Municipality, Mayor David Mutavhatsindi also pexpressed words of condolence to the Phadagi family. ”The role he played in fostering unity, discipline, hard work and dedication within the family and community shall always be cherished,” Mutavhatsindi said.
Family spokesperson David Phadagi, the deceased's brother, said Phadagi was a pillar of strength to the family. "He was everything to us; he was a true leader who even risked his life as a sacrifice for a better life for everyone," he said. According to him, funeral arrangements are at an advanced stage
"We are busy with arrangements, but what I can confirm is that we are going to bury him here at Tswinga, his home place. As he belonged to the people, we have agreed that we will hold his memorial service at the Thohoyandou Town Hall on Thursday (yesterday)," he said.
Born at Tswinga in 1952 as the third son of Muthelo and Nyamukamadi Phadagi, George Phadagi's political journey started in the 70s while he was still a student. He attended school at Tswinga, Lwamondo and Mphaphuli before doing his teacher's training at the then Venda College of Education. He was one of the leaders of the historic march that took place in Venda in 1977.
After completing his training, he initially taught in Pretoria and came back home in 1981. His involvement in politics made life very difficult for him as he was moved from one school to the next. He left teaching in 1988 and joined an insurance company.
At the dawn of democracy, Phadagi became the mayor of what was known as the Greater Thohoyandou TLC. He later became a member of the national parliament. In 2009, after the death of Pandelani Ramagoma, Premier Cassel Mathale appointed him as MEC for Public Works, where he stayed until 2011 when he was moved to the Department of Safety and Security.
Phadagi is survived by his wife and five children. A memorial service, organised by the Office of the Premier, was held on Wednesday afternoon in the Jack Botes Hall in Polokwane.
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Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and has since been a familiar name among the newspaper's readers.