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Eulogy by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the funeral service of Mr Silumko Sokupa, Heartfelt Arena, Thaba Tshwane, Pretoria

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Programme Directors, Minister Thoko Didiza and Mr Lumko Mtimde,
Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana,
The wife of our late brother, Dr Siphokazi Sokupa,
Members of the Sokupa Family,
Former President Thabo Mbeki,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Leaders of political parties and formations,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Comrades and friends,
Fellow Mourners,

It is with great sadness that I stand before you today to bid farewell to one of the veterans of our liberation struggle, a respected member of the intelligence community, and a fine and upstanding public servant.

Silumko Sokupa, or Bra Soks as we affectionately called him, was part of a generation that fought fiercely in the 1970s and 1980s for the attainment of freedom.

He was one of the generation charged with translating the theoretical perspectives of his movement, the African National Congress, into policies that would make freedom meaningful.

With the advent of democracy, Bra Soks was one of those given the task of forging a new democratic state with the capacity and the orientation to build a better life for all.

Like many of his generation, Bra Soks was conscientised during the late 1960s in the Black Consciousness Movement led by Steve Bantu Biko.

He was part of the generation that kept alive the flames of liberation that the apartheid regime sought to extinguish by imprisoning our leaders or forcing them into exile.

His political grounding in the South African Students Organisation, where he served as Secretary General, was to establish in him a life-long commitment to improving the conditions of the South African people.

Beyond the broader struggle for national liberation, Bra Soks and his peers sought very practical solutions to the challenges that faced our people on a daily basis.

Armed with very few resources, but driven by great conviction, they set up health facilities, law clinics, adult literacy programmes and other initiatives that had a direct impact on the daily existence of black South Africans.

When the apartheid regime intensified its repression, Bra Soks took the difficult decision to leave the country and join the liberation movement in exile.

He worked tirelessly in the underground and played an important role in the ANC’s intelligence work.

After the unbanning of the liberation movement, Bra Soks played a pivotal role in rebuilding the structures of the organisation in the Eastern Cape.

Despite his preference to provide leadership from the background, he was elected Regional Chairperson of the ANC Border Region in 1991.

His election, as someone who had just returned from exile, speaks volumes about his leadership capacity and the high regard in which he was held within the structures of the mass democratic movement.

Those who served with him in the Regional Executive Committee remarked that his quiet but firm leadership style was highly appreciated by all.

He was deeply principled, and never sought positions, publicity or personal wealth.

These leadership features, being quiet but firm, were important because the complexities of our transition to democracy demanded nothing less.

Bra Soks was a dedicated public servant who served with distinction in every position he occupied and every responsibility he was given.

He played a particularly significant role in the transformation and development of our intelligence services.

He understood, more than many, the place of intelligence in a democratic society.

He understood the purpose of the intelligence services as guardians of the people, of their rights and of their Constitution.

In a difficult field of work, in an environment often shrouded in secrecy and intrigue, he stood firm on the preeminence of the Constitution and the rule of law.

It must have been deeply distressing for him – as a member of the High-Level Review Panel on the State Security Agency – to witness how far our intelligence services had strayed from their essential purpose.

I remain extremely appreciative of the insight, diligence and integrity that he brought to this work.

I am grateful to Bra Soks and his fellow panel members not only for exposing the severe weaknesses in the agency, but for providing a clear roadmap towards the agency’s recovery and restoration.

I am similarly grateful to him and to Prof Sandy Africa and Adv Mojanku Gumbi for their outstanding work in probing government’s response to the public violence and destruction that occurred in parts of our country in July last year.

In undertaking these tasks, Bra Soks was honest and measured, deliberate and principled.

Where he found fault, he sought solutions.

Throughout this work – indeed throughout his life – he remained true to his character and true to his convictions.

He remained true to his movement, but most of all, he remained true to the people.

It was out of his deep love of his people that was born his deep disappointment at the extent of corruption in our society.

He saw state capture and corruption as an assault on the poor and vulnerable.

He saw it as an act of counter-revolution, eroding the democratic state and stealing the resources meant to improve people’s lives.

Corruption and state capture constituted the very antithesis of what he stood for: service to the people without expectation of any personal material gain.

In honour of Bra Soks, we must remain resolute in our work to end corruption and state capture.

We must not waiver in our efforts to renew and rebuild the movement that he so diligently served.

We must forge ahead with the restoration of the integrity and credibility of the intelligence services, our law enforcement agencies and all our public institutions.

Most of all, we must pick up the spear where it has fallen, and pursue with greater urgency and purpose the achievement of a democratic society that is free, peaceful and just.

Let us learn from him the qualities of selflessness, sacrifice, hard work, discipline and love for the people.

We will always remember Silumko Sokupa as a brother, a husband, a father, a teacher, a disciplined cadre, a consummate professional and a humble leader.

May his rest be as peaceful as he was and long may his revolutionary spirit live.

I thank you.