21 Dec 2018 09:40am
ETILYASHA, 21 DEC (NAMPA) Hundreds of mourners gathered at the Etilyasha village on Thursday to pay their last tribute to late Petrus Nangolo Ilonga who died in the Roman Catholic Hospital in Windhoek on 11 December.
He was 71.
Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs Hilma Nicanor led the mourning gathering at his home village.
Speaker after speaker described Ilonga as an icon of the liberation struggle of Namibia, fearless freedom fighter, nationalist and committed trade unionist.
Nicanor said Ilonga sacrificed his life for the wellbeing of all Namibians, adding that he endured torture at the hands of the colonial South African regime after finding him guilty of underground activities aimed at the liberation of Namibia.
He was sentenced to 18 years as a political prisoner at Robben Island in South Africa, along with others such as the late John Pandeni, Ben Ulenga and Willem Biwa.
Speaking on behalf of friends, former Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Richard Kamwi told the mourners that Ilonga was principled, a reliable comrade and straight talker.
He was a true revolutionary, fearless defender of workers rights and was prepared to sacrifice his life for the independence of the country, Kamwi noted.
He believes Ilonga advocated for nationalism and anti-tribalism.
President Hage Geingob declared Ilonga a national hero and directed that a State funeral be held and period of national mourning observed in his honour between Thursday and Saturday.
Besides being secretary general of the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) since his release from prison in 1985 until 2000, Ilonga served as parliamentarian and deputy minister of Environment and Tourism; Labour and Social Services; Agriculture, Water and Forestry and Defence between 2000 and 2015.
He will be buried at Heroes Acre in Windhoek on Saturday. His wife, Paulina, nine children and two siblings survive him.