City of Joburg pays tribute to former speaker
Councillors in the City of Johannesburg have paid their last respects to former speaker Connie Bapela in Metro Centre‚ Braamfontein.
A black cloth covered the late Bapela’s seat in council and on her desk was a white candle which burned as politicians forgot their differences to mourn one of their own.
Bapela died on February 16 after a short illness. She had served the City of Johannesburg since 1995 and was great leader of the ANC in Johannesburg.
In council chambers‚ next to her seat sat Bapela’s comrade Geoffrey Makhubo‚ who had served as MMC of finance while Bapela was speaker of council.
As speakers took turns to describe the calibre of a person Bapela was‚ her comrades on the opposition benches continued to weep. Even in the public gallery‚ some of the members of the public wept as Makhubo described her life-long comrade. “Not even apartheid could break her down…‚” Makhubo remarked.
The sad mood continued during the entire memorial service. Even when council speaker Vasco da Gama asked the Johannesburg Metro Police Department's brass band to render a hymn‚ the mood remained sad.
Bapela is survived by her husband‚ Deputy Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs‚ Obed Bapela‚ and their three children. She will be laid to rest on Saturday.