FORMER MEC DIES IN KOKSTAD: DAILY DISPATCH

FLAGS flew at half-mast at the ANC’s provincial headquarters in King William’s Town yesterday as the province came to grips with the shocking news of the sudden death of MPL and a former MEC Nombulelo Mabandla.

Mabandla, 41, died in Kokstad on Wednesday while on her way to Durban with her husband.

At this stage it is not clear how she died and police in KwaZulu-Natal could not be reached for comment yesterday. The news of the former MEC for human settlement’s death left a cloud hanging over her colleagues in the ANC and at Bhisho.

Mabandla had just returned from Port St Johns where she had been with many of her colleagues conducting oversight work.

ANC provincial spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane said the news was a shock.

“On behalf of the ANC we would like to convey our sympathy and condolences to her husband, kids, and colleagues,” Qoboshiyane said.

Members of her family could not be contacted for comment yesterday and the Bhisho legislature said it would comment at a later stage.

Mabandla was born in the Chulunca Administrative Area, in the Mhlontlo Local Municipality.

Her involvement in politics started while she was still at school and blossomed when she joined the leadership ranks of the ruling party.

She served as a treasurer in the party’s youth league at both regional and provincial level. In 2006 she was deployed to Mhlontlo’s mayoral committee.

Following the 2009 general elections Mabandla was deployed to the provincial legislature, serving as human settlements MEC, before falling victim to last year’s cabinet reshuffle.

Youth League provincial chairman Ayanda Matiti lauded a life dedicated to service from one of the league’s products.

“It’s a blow to those who wanted to see her in command in the upper structures of the ANC,” he said.

“She was a very firm person … Even when she was recalled she was still inspired to serve the ANC because she did not think she was bigger than the ANC.”

Members of the opposition in Bhisho also paid tribute, including COPE’s Mbulelo Ntenjwa. “As an MEC she displayed a high level of commitment and dedication. Hers is a life worth celebrating,” said Ntenjwa.

DA caucus chairwoman Veliswa Mvenya said: “We’re all shocked, especially since she was not sick. Even though we were in opposition politically, I considered her a friend and so did many others.”

Close friend and MEC for social development, Pemmy Majodina, described her as a courageous woman.

“People must give respect to her family and allow them to mourn. I know a lot of things have been said, but people must wait for the police to make a determination,” Majodina said of her death. “She was a woman of style and class, and as her friend I will make sure she gets a dignified sendoff.” Mabandla leaves behind her husband and six children. — sabelos@dispatch.