Back to top

Eulogy by His Excellency Deputy President David Mabuza at the Official Funeral Service of Warrant Officer Shongwe, Mbombela, Mpumalanga Province

Printer-friendly versionSend by email
Ngibingelela Mphatsi luhlelo;
Umndeni wonke netihlobo tonkhe ta babe Thomas Sibhakuza Shongwe, BoMtimandze!
Deputy Minister Reginah Mhaule,
Apostle Mxolisi Lephoko nabaholi bonke betenkolo;
Bahlali baka ka Magugu;
Ngiyanibingelela nonkhe kulobuhlungu lobukhulu kangaka kulelilanga lanamuhla.
We meet under a deep cloud of pain, darkness, and despair for one of our own limbs has left our collective body.
We have no words to begin to describe the unfortunate early demise of this wonderful son of the Place of the Rising Sun that has reverberated throughout the length and breadth of our country, whilst equally sending shockwaves to all those who watch closely the state of our country and beautiful nation.
As leaders, we owe a great debt of gratitude to the brave men and women of the South African Police Service, including Warrant Officer Thomas Sibhakuza Shongwe, whose remains we are laying to rest today.
As police officers are an important part of our communities, we don't always thank them for the personal, family, and societal sacrifices they make when we see them every day as they do their job to prevent and fight anything that could threaten our safety and security. 
Therefore, on behalf of all South Africans, the executive arm of the state and entirety of government, we extend our most sincere condolences to the loved ones of the South African Police Service officers who have been killed in the line of duty.
Fellow Mourners,
Today, our hearts go out to Warrant Officer Shongwe's family, friends and neighbors who that November 20, 2022 had no idea it would be the last time they would see their son, father, spouse, relative and neighbor alive.
Our hearts are indeed wounded and our souls scarred as we mourn the closing of this well lived chapter in the remarkable life of a man who devoted himself to his family, the Pentecost Church, and community of ka-Magugu to the very last end of his life.
It is distressing to watch a life so vibrant and full of promise cut short in an unexpected and unimagined manner.
As the Office of Deputy President and all colleagues who worked closely with him in his entire journey of dedicated service, we are numb and in a state of unexplainable devastation.
Since we first started working together in the Mpumalanga Provincial Government, we have had the opportunity to get to know Warrant Officer Shongwe and gain some insight into the kind of person he was.
Whether they were young or old, he treated everyone with the same reverence and respect.
Although he did not talk much, whenever he did, it was like a treasure trove of knowledge being poured out. Because of his disciplined approach to work and his work ethic, his colleagues gave him the nickname Malume.
If you inquire about Warrant Officer Shongwe, you will find that a good number of people can vouch for his availability as a source of sensible guidance and counsel. If you do this, you will discover something interesting.
One of the many outstanding attributes that he possessed that we admired in the office was the fact that, when he was not working, he basically never went anywhere other than home to be with his family.
He exemplified everything that it means to be a loving and loyal member of his family.
Who among us would still not feel heartbroken, abandoned, and crushed after losing not only a spouse, parent, and brother, but also a friend in the same person and a breadwinner for the entire family?
Who among us would just not feel bereft, and shattered?
We are not in a position to claim that we understand how you are feeling because we are aware that what we are going through as his work colleagues is nothing in comparison to what you are going through as a parent, spouse, child, or member of a family. As a result, we are unable to claim that we know the emotions that you are experiencing.
As individuals who have worked with Warrant Officer Shongwe-uMalume, we struggled mightily to hold back our emotions from the very centre of our being when we realised that an essential component of who we are had been snatched from us forever.
We are finding it difficult to accept that we won't ever again hear the echo of his silent laughter as we prepare to travel across our country from one community, ward, village, and town to another, for government intervention and response in our efforts to build the South Africa of our dreams that is based on equity and justice, a South Africa that does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of social standing.
We will never have the pleasure of seeing his face light up with a grin when we talk about soccer, especially when his favourite team, the Kaizer Chiefs, has won.
We will miss him for his taste in gospel music. He would sing along to ApoZion-type gospel. The music will comfort us when days are tough and would lift our spirits and moods.
If he was not playing music, you would find him reading; some colleagues called him a bookworm.
His life was a lesson to us, and his contribution to our team has provided us with memories worthy of being treasured for as long as we live and breathe.
It was the essence of his being that moved every one of us. His politeness and his love for the people will make us miss him even more.
If everyone in South Africa could just embrace Malume's mindset, the country would be a lot better, and we strongly encourage other members to do the same.
When an official possesses the demeanour and high moral character of Warrant Officer Shongwe, it is impossible to corrupt them.
Fellow Mourners,
Warrant Officer Shongwe's calm manner was matched only by his devotion to duty. He was also courteous, timely, and disciplined, yet he was a very perceptive person.
After beginning his career with the organisation as a student constable in 1991, Warrant Officer Shongwe achieved a total of 31 years of continuous service, dedication, and sacrifice.
For the duration of his service, he was attached to the Protection Security Services Division, where he served as an in-transit VIP protector.
From 1994 to 2018, he was responsible for rendering protection services to the office of the Premier in this province, Mpumalanga.
Later, Warrant Officer Shongwe was moved to the Presidential Protection Services. From 2018 until now, he has worked as a close protector for the Deputy President and his team.
In all of the years that we have worked together, he has never been the subject of a formal complaint or investigation into a possible violation of the code of conduct.
Malume was truly the finest son of Mpumalanga and our country.
It was only natural for him to move up in the ranks and join the Presidential Protection Services.
This is a special unit of the South African Police Service that is trained and dedicated to protecting the daily lives of our presidents, deputy presidents, former presidents, former deputy presidents, and visiting heads of state.
Without men and women like him who are willing to put their lives on the line for those they serve, particularly heads of state, the repercussions may be incomprehensible.
It is possible that our country could experience long-term negative political and societal ramifications as a consequence.
Regrettably, there are not many men and women of character in the world like him, and we owe it to these individuals to appreciate and honour them while they are still alive.
Sadly, his life was taken away from us in the most sudden, never-imagined, and extremely horrific manner.
Nina bo Mtimandze, site lapha kuto thfwalisana lobuhlungu lenibuvako bokushiywa ngu babe wekhaya. Your pain is our pain. Your sorrow is our sorrow. We share collectively in your loss!
Indeed, it is painful to lose someone so important to you. Even if the passage of time makes the agony less intense, we will never forget uMalume.
The time that he spent in this world was a blessing, especially to those of us who interacted with him almost every day.
We would like to extend our condolences to his wife and children one more time at this difficult time.
Psalm 34:18 has an uplifting verse that we would like to quote to you as a way to strengthen your spirits. To paraphrase what is written in the Bible, "The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
We believe that our Creator grants you the fortitude to continue walking through this journey even when it is covered by the darkest cloud possible, knowing that it will one day diffuse.
We also take this opportunity to wish a speedy recovery to the injured members of the Presidential Protection Service that were travelling with Malume on that fateful day.
It is our solemn faith that he will pull through and rejoin our team, which has grown into a wonderful family of servants of the people of our country in their determined march towards a united, non-racial, non-sexist, and prosperous South Africa.
In their honour, we shall neither abandon nor sacrifice at the altar of convenience the fight for the freedom, democracy, and economic emancipation of all South Africans. 
We will do this so that every child who is born into our society will have the opportunity to aspire to greatness and work just as diligently and with as much honour as Warrant Officer Thomas Sibhakuza Shongwe.
Permit me to restate the South African Police Service's statement: "The SAPS flag does not move because of the wind; it moves because of the last breath of every officer who died protecting it."
May the soul of this giant rest in eternal peace!