The country continues to mourn following the passing of government spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa, on Saturday night at Unitas Hospital.
Mamoepa’s last job was as Deputy President’s spokesperson before he was taken by complications due to a stroke and also undergoing surgery.
Mamoepa’s long-standing public service stretches back to apartheid in 1980 when his political role landed him in the notorious Robben Island prison for terrorism at the ripe age of 18.
His outstanding communication role in government was served as head of communications for the first Gauteng Premier, Tokyo Sexwale, from 1994 to 1996. He also made a contribution to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature before jetting off to Philadelphia in the United States of America (USA) where he was the South African candidate for the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship. It was during his USA stay where he enhanced his communication intellect within the White House and other US governors’ offices.
Locally, Mamoepa contributed to the Department of Home Affairs, alongside National Executive Committee (NEC) member Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Mamoepa also supported former President Thabo Mbeki and current President Jacob Zuma as chief director of communications along with their political journeys. He also worked at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
Ramaphosa expressed great loss towards Mamoepa’s passing whom he described as a “tower of strength” as he told the media that he was with him at the Pretoria hospital, 3 hours before his death and somehow knew he would not make it.
“Ronnie was one of those people from a communications point of view was full of life, easy to approach and communication was in his blood,” said Ramaphosa.
In a statement, Minister of Communications Ayanda Dlodlo said: “This is a tragic loss to government communications and to the nation as a whole. We have been robbed of a dedicated civil servant who selflessly served this government with distinction and loyalty.”
Dlodlo also mentioned that Mamoepa was an accomplished communicator with a very sharp and analytical mind who never shied away from a challenge, “we are poorer without him,” she stated.
Condolences also poured in from the Nelson Mandela Foundation: “His engaging warmth, generosity of spirit and passion for his work characterised his generation of communications experts for the former liberation movement. His professionalism remained through the many roles he played as a spokesperson in government. We will miss him.”
Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor said: “His stories of life as an activist and his experience as a cadre in prison kept us entranced for hours. We dip our heads in sadness at this loss of another great South African. May his soul rest in peace.”
Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman hailed Mamoepa for his humanity. “This was a humble, honourable human being who cared so much for the poor and those in difficulty. He will be sorely missed by the Gift of the Givers family,” said Sooliman.
Mamoepa family spokesperson Groovin Nchabeleng said: “We are still in shock as we come to terms with the passing away of our brother, father and uncle. We are thankful for the support, condolences and messages of comfort.”
Mamoepa is survived by his wife and children.
In preparation for the funeral, the Mamoepa family will hold prayer sessions every day between 6 and 8pm.