President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday sang the praises of the late Johannesburg mayor Jolidee Matongo, saying he was an outstanding leader who abhorred corruption.
“It's a very sad moment for me to be here at the home of our departed mayor Jolidee Matongo. I have just met his wife and his mother and one of his children,” he said.
“It's a really sombre moment and a very sad one. He was a really outstanding leader at the level of local government,” said Ramaphosa.
He said he was impressed by Matongo during the interview process that saw him being chosen to replace former mayor Geoff Makhubo.
“We saw a great deal of talent, great deal of vision and visionary leadership for the city and we knew that we placed the city in good hands under his leadership.
“The one other thing is that he was so well loved, received and supported by the membership of the ANC and indeed many parties who make up the metro council,” said Ramaphosa.
He said Matongo's death was a direct blow after having worked with him during a campaign on voter registration weekend. Matongo died in a car accident shortly after the campaign with Ramaphosa.
“I had seen him in action. I had seen the way citizens of the city had received him even under very difficult conditions,” said Ramaphosa. He said the way Matongo dealt with residents' challenges made him confirm in his head that the party made the right choice by hiring him.
Ramaphosa said the party had been robbed by the death of Matongo, a man he said promised to turn the city around.
“He was a truly outstanding leader and I am saddened to have heard the news of a man like him dying so tragically in an accident,” said Ramaphosa.
He said the party would continue the work Matongo had started, in his honour.
Ramaphosa said Matongo had abhorred corruption and wanted things to be done the right way. He urged ANC supporters outside Matongo's home to work hard to win the upcoming elections in honour of the late mayor.