By Amir Chetty
Sports Minister Thulas Nxesi has pleaded with the clergy to not turn their backs on the ANC, saying they are needed now more than ever to help rebuild the party.
Nxesi was speaking at the funeral of rugby legend Welile “Bomza” Nkohla in Port Elizabeth yesterday.
Delivering the eulogy in a packed Nangoza Jebe Hall in New Brighton, Nxesi said the clergy were part of the establishment of the ANC and they could not simply abandon the party.
“Many ANC leaders come from the church.
“Although there are problems within the ruling party, the clergy cannot leave [it] but [should] rather try to fix the issues and continue to pray,” he said.
He explained how Nkohla was stubborn in nature, and said that during these tough times, a stubborn attitude was needed.
“Our movement needs more cadres and leaders of Bomza’s calibre, those who are honest and stubborn in the fight against corruption,” Nxesi said.
“They must not be afraid to tackle corruption.
“Why would you allow the party that placed you here to die in your hands?” he asked.
Nkohla was buried at the Papenkuil Cemetery in Gelvandale yesterday afternoon.
The hall was filled with friends, family and members of the local and national rugby fraternities who came to honour him.
Many people, including rugby legend Benson Maweni, SA Rugby Union president Mark Alexander and Eastern Cape Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture MEC Pemmy Majodina, paid glowing tributes to Nkohla.
Nkohla, 71, died more than a week ago at Livingstone Hospital after a long battle with cancer.
He made his provincial and national rugby debut aged 21.
He went on to captain the South African Coloured Rugby Football Board National XV in May 1968.
After the South African rugby unions had been unified in 1992, Nkohla – together with senior EP Rugby Union official Freddie Makoki – helped start the Peter Mkhata team, which helped develop young black players in the Eastern Cape.
In 2004, Nkohla, together with fellow stalwarts Salie Fredericks, Cassiem Jabaar and Fagmie Solomons, received the Saru President’s Award for their contributions to rugby.
Nkohla is survived by his wife, six children, twin sister Welekazi and brother Mzimkhulu.