Public Service and Administration Minister Roy Padayachie was a leader, a community activist and struggle stalwart, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize said on Sunday.
“He was an exemplary leader who served his people with dedication. He was a trusted community leader who served as a crucial link between various communities and government,” Mkhize said in a statement.
Padayachie, 62, was found dead in his hotel room in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia by a colleague on Friday evening. He had been attending a meeting of the African Peer Review Mechanism.
He joined the public service and administration ministry in October. He was former minister of communication and before that deputy minister of public service and administration.
Mkhize visited Padayachie’s family over the weekend to pay his respects.
“He is one of the struggle stalwarts that we will continue to celebrate for his personal sacrifice and tremendous contribution towards the struggle for a free, non-racial and non-sexist society.”
He said the only fitting tribute to Padayachie was for the provincial government to continue working hard to bridge the digital divide.
“This government inherited a system which still shows unbelievable imbalances in access to telecommunication services. We are running a risk of opening up a huge gap between information haves and have nots.”
Access to telecommunication and broadcasting services was not only for personal development, but was also a tool for economic development, he said.
“He was a hard worker, a strategic thinker, humble and had some much love for the people. He was a trusted comrade with whom we shared many ideas of how to take the struggle forward,” Mkhize said.
On Saturday the presidency announced that Padayachie would be honoured with a category one official funeral.
“This category of a funeral is reserved for ministers who are still serving in office,” said spokesman Harold Maloka in a statement.
The burial would take place in Durban on Wednesday.
National flags would be flown at half mast from Monday until Wednesday in honour of Padayachie and former co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Sicelo Shiceka.
Labour Minister Mildred Olifant would serve in Padayachie’s position until further notice.
Padayachie’s remains arrived back in South Africa on Saturday afternoon.
“Minister Padayachie’s body was handed over to his family and loved ones after it arrived in Durban from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,” Maloka said.
Olifant and representatives of the provincial government, representing President Jacob Zuma and Cabinet, joined the family.
Zuma personally phoned Padayachie’s wife Sally Mudaly Padayachie to convey his condolences.
Details of the burial would be communicated later by Minister Collins Chabane, who is the chairman of the inter-ministerial committee on State funerals, Maloka said.