When I was in High School, I used to read everything that came my way and even when I was at University I was so fascinated with issues that I ended up literally attending classes in law so that I could engage intelligently with my friends in law.  I remember reading a book by Norman Vincent Peale which goes like this - In a time of grief, those who can sit with their fellow men, not knowing what to say, but knowing that they should be there can bring life to a dying heart, and that is what your presence means to us today. I wish to express my appreciation to the many friends and colleagues who have supported us – but must I mention a few of those who have sent condolences and given support: The PresidencyGovernment, GCISThe Ministers – Alex Irwin, Geraldine Fraser-MoleketiGovernment Departments – Education, Trade and Industry, Agriculture, Various EmbassiesPremier of North West, Ednah Molewa, Leader of the Opposition, Tony LeonEvery one of our political parties  - SOPA, AZAPO and PACThe Youth League and the Young Communist PartyCOSATUSACPHeads of Institutions: Barney Pitjana, Malegepuru Makgoba, Bantu HolomisaMuxe NkondoSeth NthaiWinnie MandelaMatthews PhosaMolefi Kete Asante (who I have known for over 20 years, a friend and colleague at Temple University, USA)Professor Jerry Fox, Nebraska University, USAMedia Fraternity – allThe Helen Suzman Foundation A special mention must be made of the crew that worked with Jimmy at New Nation, his first home in journalism in South Africa. They are all here today, together with their commander in chief, Zwelakhe Sisulu. I would like to thank City Press, Jimmy’s last home.  You have made our tasks easier during this last mile  I also wish to thank my employer, Henley Management College, for the support they have shown through this painful period. Jimmy and I used to talk about how strange it is, that I have had to become a Professor in a foreign country, in a Business School, because people find it difficult to engage with issues that I raise. At least we know that in the New South Africa, truth seeking and truth speaking is a career-limiting exercise.  I know Jimmy, having a brother like me, had to endure and bear the brunt of the many insults, character assassinations, vicious attacks, directed at me. He knew some of these even before they reached print, but had to take this in his stride. He always prided himself with the fact that he knows that I would give an intelligent response. His defence was always the same as mine – what is it that he has written that is untrue, invalid or false? My sin has always been that I refuse to submit to the logic of power. What I was saying five years ago was unfashionable then, that the centralisation of power would lead to the centralisation of thought and reduce public representatives to being mere puppet.  Jimmy and I considered that such is the viciousness of the attacks that some might think that I am responsible for poverty, homelessness, the crisis in education and HIV Aids.  All I have offered is words and the power of logic.  Jimmy would have liked me to say that.  I would do a disservice to Jimmy if I did not mention this. Most importantly, I must thank my relatives.  Whilst they had no choice in the matter, they have been there as a constant support, but more particularly in the last five days. I know this has been very difficult for them. Jimmy was their common thread, their link.  He had spent more time with them than I have. Some of them even thought I live overseas. But Jimmy made it his business to know his family. I want to tell them, I am here I wish to thank those who paid tribute at Thursday’s memorial for their kind words.  They have made much easier the task of writing a book about him for his children.  This will be a task that will occupy me for some time. It is a way of saying thanks to my mother for giving me the brother that I have. I have spent much time out of the country since my first visit to the US, but I always made it a habit to call home.  Jimmy made it his business to await my calls. One Sunday morning on 20th October in 1985, I called Jimmy to check on the family – really to check on my mother. That day my brother, Edward, was killed. Three hours later I called Jimmy at Jerry’s place because I knew something was wrong.  It was Jimmy that picked up the phone and told me, I knew you would call.  At that time everyone was wondering how I would know, and he had told everyone that I would know. That is how connected we were. Our mother made it our business to be connected. My friends became his friends, and his mine. But being Jimmy, he had more friends than I had. His childhood friend, Jerry Senokonyane, is here today. They have been together for their whole lives, and Jerry and I have been through this before many times: when Jimmy was hit by a car when he was young – hardly ten, Jerry was there; and when Jimmy was hit by a car again in 1979, he was with Jerry.   When he was shot, Jerry supported us. This time around, it was my mother, Jerry and I that knew that we had lost him. Even before Jimmy died my mother and I had a difficult conversation.  I thanked her for giving me the brother that I had, and she thanked me for having being with him. That is how Jimmy touched us.  Even as we shared this visceral bond, Jimmy was central to all of us – his family, his in-laws (Nxumalos). He built the network of Seepe’s & Nxumalo’s. He was a son and a brother to the Nxumalo’s.  He was a devoted husband to Ntombi and a loving father. Always to be relied upon. He was there for his kids. He always made contact with them when he was overseas. His passing changes everything for us.  I have told the kids that. Even before he passed away I made sure that I told all the kids that life has changed irreversibly.   After the release of Mandela, I think in 1990, when Mandela went to the US, Jimmy decided to drive across the United States to go and see Mandela. He was always in touch and working with the ANC office as I was then. That is why we were always bemused when people ask me, where we you?  Jimmy with his little knowledge of cars, failed to put water and he had to hike to New York.  By the time he reached Albany, where I used to stay, he was penniless and he spent a few nights sleeping in the parks. No – he was not a hobo, he knew that he had to look for a South African, and the first person he asked was a tall, handsome African American and he asked if he knew any South African in the area. Jubary Penda said, you must be Jimmy, you must be Sipho’s brother because Sipho is my brother.  They stayed together and Jimmy was home.  They both traveled to see Mandela. My son Mpho will remember him as ‘homeboy’. One of the most wonderful times that we had was when we were both invited to a in international conference on Democracy in the US.  We went to the University of Nebraska where Jimmy graduated.  I was then an associate editor of the Mail and Guardian, and Jimmy was political editor at City Press. People at the conference thought that Seepe was just a common surname, like Smith.  This was the first time we had been away from home together – one of the few times we were out of the country at the same time. We had hardly arrived in Nebraska, and Jimmy disappeared.  Within 30mts of arrival, while I was listening to the radio he was on the radio. Nebraska had become his home. He had to give a series of lectures within the University. Everyone knew him within and outside the University.  Many people, business people, made it a point that they came to see him because while he was there he had popularized the anti-apartheid struggle. More than ten years later he was remembered. Even today, we have received support from his friends and professors there over the last month.  Professor Jerry Fox, his teacher, sent this message when Jimmy was lying in a coma, He is a passionate, romantic man with a heart as big as his laugh.  It is now up to God to take care of him. Their hearts are with us today. In our trip to Nebraska, I shared in his glory and in a sense, I was pleased with myself because Jimmy had always been my business.  

Jimmy has been a central part of my life. As the youngest in the family, Jimmy was my business. I fetched him from kindergarten. I assisted him with his school work. When he finished school, it was my business to pay for his university studies. I didn’t think about it, he didn’t think about. It was natural - a given. The first car he owned, I bought.


Our closeness was so natural. Our bond grew everyday. My beloved mother recently told us that she has never come across brothers who care so much about each other. Being his brother and friend has been the greatest privilege. The pain of loss cuts so deep. It is indescribable. We spoke to each other almost daily – and made sure that we saw each other at least once a week. For my mother, who has always been there for us, she has given us steadfast love and support all of our lives. She has shown us by her example how to live our lives with love and integrity. She has dedicated her life to us.  My beloved mother worries. I am the only other son left. My other brother, Edward, died at twenty five. She has taken too much in one lifetime. My father died when Jimmy was three. I have had the misfortune of having had to bury my younger brothers. And she has had to bury her sons and their father. Jimmy’s passing away is by far the cruelest blow.  We shared a love for ideas, a search for the truth. Professionally, Jimmy embodied journalistic integrity, fairness and honesty. He probed and asked critical questions without seeking to embarrass anyone. Unlike many who write with an attitude, Jimmy could distinguish between news coverage and political commentary. He respected his audience by letting facts speak for themselves.  He was also courageous in his writings. Bantu Holomisa recalls; at the New Nation “Messers Sisulu, Sithole and Seepe were instrumental in the struggle to bringing the truth to light through the information we leaked to them. The confidence and courage that they displayed in publishing these stories despite the danger of detention or worse, ensured that the then Government’s insincerity in the initial negotiations and their Third Force activities were exposed.” Jimmy contributed with his pen in shaping the minds of South Africans.   Jimmy was a brother, a comrade, a confidant, an intellectual and a political sparring partner. He sharpened my thoughts and sophisticated my understanding.  

My brother had the makings of a new man – gentle yet strong, firm in thinking yet kind and with a generosity of spirit that resounded in his hearty voice, a propensity to grapple with ideas and happenings and to make (political) meaning even of that which seemed absurd. The tragedy is he has not lived long enough for this to develop and reach fruition – may others walk in this path. Death will not break the ties that bind us. His memory will remain with me as long as I live. I feel blessed to have been part of his life.

The children’s appreciationWords fail us when it comes to saying goodbye. We know that you are gone. But you will always be with in our hearts and minds. When it comes to school, we will always hear your voice – telling us that education will give us a better and brighter future.  You have taught us how to respect ourselves and more importantly to respect other people. We cry, but we don’t cry because you have left us, we cry because of what you have done for us is unbelievable. We are grateful to God for the opportunity of having a father like you. Your last breath here on earth has brought friends and foes together – letting bygones be bygones and left no animosities.  In as much as we shed tears, tears still fall because your existence made a difference in the lives of your loved ones reminding us that as one of the good lessons we learnt from you that we should live each day to make a difference in someone’s life. To say we will miss you is an understatement, but rest assured that we will miss you dearly. Wife’s appreciationMy husband, a friend, companion and partner are the least roles he had in my life. Words least explain what goes through one’s mind at such a time. You stood with me through thick and thin, and through the rainy and sunny days. I will always love and treasure you Jimmy. Even as I shed the tears, I should at least feel privileged that during your short visit to this world, part of it you spent with me. I have fond memories and unforgettable reminisces reassuring me that all will be well when I feel otherwise. Sad as it is to say, rest in peace my dearest beloved.  

Your loving wife Ntombi Pat Seepe