SATAWU’s National Sector Coordinator for Road Freight Tabudi Abner Ramakgolo was laid to rest in Mankwe, Limpopo on 2 November. Ramakgolo passed on 22 October after having been ill.
His SATAWU comrades came a long way to bid him farewell.
Among those who were present was his life-long mentor and friend Kwa-Zulu Natal Acting Secretary, Thulani Dlamini, who along with his team from the drove all night to get to the funeral.
Paying tribute to Ramakgolo on behalf of the organisation National Coordinator for Passenger Rail, Tinzi Lubabalo, testified to the strong working and personal relationship Ramakgolo and Dlamini had enjoyed over the years. Earlier in the week at a memorial service hosted by the National Bargaining Council for Road Freight and Logistics Industry speaker after speaker spoke of Ramakgolo’s humble, respectful nature and his ability to unify people around a common cause. Lubabalo attributed these character traits to Dlamini’s mentorship. He also pointed out that although everyone believed SATAWU’s 2006 Security sector strike was the first was its length, the truth was Ramakgolo had led a three-month long Tolls strike as early as 2004. And in 2005 he led 30 000 truck drivers on strike.
The Bargaining Council’s representative Mr Xaba spoke of Ramakgolo’s contribution most notably the introduction of the health fund that now covers 110 000 of the 130 000 workers in the industry – of which 4 000 are on ARVs – and how the fund was responsible for improving the quality of life of the industry workers.
Ramakgolo’s work on the international front where he served as International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Africa Regional Chair for nine years was acknowledged by ITF Representative for Francophone Africa and Ecowas, Bayla Sow. Sow flew in from Ivory Coast to see his comrade buried. He spoke of the high regard they all had for Ramakgolo’s personable nature and work ethic. On a more personal note, Sow recalled their shared love of music and how he had given Ramakgolo a flash disk with more than 70 CDs of Senegalese music while Tabudi gave him a Kelly Khumalo CD during their last encounter at a conference late last year.
ITF Urban Transport Chair, John Mark Mwanika, flew in from Uganda and said he had told the London office, “Tabudi cannot be buried without the ITF present.”
SATAWU Mpumalanga Acting Secretary, Solomon Mahlangu, read out a letter from Deputy ITF African Regional Secretary Anna Karume to the congregation.
“The ITF will remember him as one of the most active and visionary leaders in the Africa structure,” the letter read.
SATAWU veteran leaders Masindi, Leah and Andrew also came to bid their last farewell to this soldier of our movement. Limpopo Provincial Secretary Paul Nephawe also made an appearance.