It is with great sadness that we share the news that the union has lost one of its founding members, Comrade Johnson Gamede. Comrade Gamede was the former General Secretary of SARHWU (South African Railway and Harbour Workers Union). He subsequently played a pivotal role in the merger between SARHWU, BLATU (Black Transnet Allied Trade Union), and TATU (Transnet Allied Trade Union) to form the first SATAWU in 1998.
His determination to fulfil the COSATU Congress mandate of “one union one industry” was turned into material reality as a result of the successful merger between the former SATAWU and TGWU (Transport and General Workers Union) in 2000. At the launching Congress, he was elected as the Deputy General Secretary of the new/current SATAWU.
Comrade Gamede later became the Head of Collective Bargaining. He nonetheless, retired from all union activities in 2015. His retirement was, however, short-lived after being requested to intervene and address issues of collective bargaining and challenges affecting Transnet at that interval in time. In our December 2018 National Staff Meeting (NSM), he reminded all staff to champion the interests of members, jealously guard the soul of SATAWU, and “organise or starve”.
Not only did we lose institutional memory, we lost a servant leader and a stalwart. We extend our deepest condolences to the Gamede family, his friends, colleagues and comrades. May the revolutionary soul of Comrade Johnson Gamede rest in peace. Please note that funeral arrangements will be communicated after the National Office Bearers (NOBs) meet with his family.