Farewell to Johannesburg’s first black mayor

The City of Johannesburg paid a fitting tribute to the first-post apartheid, democratically elected executive mayor Ntate Issac Mogase. The funeral, observing strict health protocol due to the pandemic, was held at the Bryanston Catholic Church on Thursday, May 6.

Speaker of Council Nonceba Molwele declared the funeral of the late Isaac Mogase an official Civic Funeral – which is an official local government funeral to honour the lives of important people of significance and their contribution to the City of Joburg.

News of Ntate Mogase’s passing was made public on April 28, a day after the country celebrated the anniversary of the 1994 elections which bought about a democratic state. He served as the executive mayor of the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan from 1995 until 2000.

The current executive mayor, Councillor Geoff Makhubo addressed the mourners in a honorary eulogy for the stalwart of the African National Congress (ANC).

City of Johannesburg executive mayor Geoff Makhubo delivers the eulogy of Ntate Mogase

“On behalf of the City of Joburg Metropolitan Municipality, I would like to convey my deep condolences to the family, comrades, friends and relatives of Ntate Isaac Dank Mogase.

I wish to reflect on Ntate Mogase’s legacy by emphasising, first and foremost, that I would not be standing here in front of you all in my capacity as the Executive Mayor of this Great City, if it were not for this extraordinary citizen. Myself and those that came before me (Former Mayors Amos Masondo and Parks Tau), would not have had the privilege of re-designing Johannesburg’s spatial injustices and economic inequalities, had it not been for this towering figure of a man.

To us, he is the First Mayor full stop. We do not recognize anyone who claims to have come before him. He paved the way for the transformation of Soweto from the apartheid reserve it used to be into a modern city.

He paved the way for the introduction of an Integrated Development Plan, which was a plan to tackle reconstruction and development, reduce crime through enforcement of by-laws, increase metro police visibility, rejuvenate and regenerate the Inner City.

Because of him, policies such as the Growth & Development Strategy 2040, which is the City’s policy plan to reverse the apartheid legacy of spatial segregation and discrimination (by 2040), have continued where he left off.

For myself and former mayors Parks Tau and Amos Masondo, Ntate Mogase was a torch bearer. He was the blueprint Mayor, the First of firsts. A catalytic force that encouraged us and gave us hope that a black Mayorship was possible. That men like me can lead this great City and contribute to its development.

We who are in the City Government today know too well that we stand on their great and broad shoulders.

We are here because they charted the path we find ourselves on. Ntate Mogase and his companions laid the foundation for the developmental path that we today known as the Growth and Development Strategy 2040.

That is why we have no fear of contradiction when we say that he was the doyen of the civic movement in our country, not just in Soweto.

For the poor who had been made to feel that their race determined the quality of their lives, Ntate Mogase’s ascendence gave great consolation that their lives meant something. At last they would be given a chance to live out their lives with no apartheid-sponsored interruptions!

At last City interventions would be drawn up with them in mind. With the focus being to radically change their lives, so that their children and grandchildren will participate in society on an equal footing. Because of men like Ntate Mogase, cities like Johannesburg are an economic hub where people from all over the continent – and dare I say, the world – come looking for economic opportunities. The freedoms we enjoy today as black African city dwellers are because he showed us that it is indeed possible. He told us that they are ours, and never again will they be taken from us,” said mayor Makhubo.

A well-orchestrated parade was conducted by members of the Johannesburg Metro Police, Traffic and Emergency Services. The group lined up the streets, marching alongside the funeral procession as it took Ntate Mogase to his final resting place.

Life and Times of Ntate Mogase

The late Mogase was anti-apartheid activist, he joined the ANC Youth League in the 1950s and was one of the leaders of the Soweto Crisis Committee in the 1980s, working alongside Reverend Frank Chikane and Nthato Motlana.

After hearing of his passing, Reverend Chikane took to Twitter to send his condolences. “Condolences to the Mogase family at the loss of the Soweto Veteran of the struggle & first mayor of JHB after 1994 democratic elections. Ntate Isaac Mogase served his people with dignity & showed a way of running a clean gov that delivers results for people!”

The late, first mayor of Johannesburg is survived by his wife Mme Netta Mogase; his children (Thabo, Mutle and Tshidi), grand children and great grand children.

Rest In Peace Ntate Mogase

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