On Thursday the Presidency announced that President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a Special Provincial Official funeral to honour the late freedom fighter, academic and community organiser from the Western Cape, Cecyl Esau.
Esau passed away from natural causes at his Table View home on Wednesday, 17 March at the age of 66. He is survived by five children, one grandchild, his sister June and brothers Alexander and Jacob.
Esau’s alma mater the University of the Western Cape (UWC) honoured the career of the Worcester-born political activist. Esau was the youngest of four siblings and the first to attend the university when he started his BA (Law) degree in 1975. UWC said that Esau immersed himself in the political activism on campus and that despite being expelled in 1977 and being in detention during his studies, he continued to recruit students to the African National Congress until he was imprisoned. In 1987 the university renamed a residence after him.
“Comrade Esau was one of the key activists of the United Democratic Front who responded to the call to make the country ungovernable and apartheid unworkable. He belonged to that generation of freedom fighters who were prepared to pay the ultimate price in pursuit of the liberation of the people of South Africa. This Umkhonto we Sizwe veteran was imprisoned on Robben Island where he served 12 years [and] was released in 1991,” the ANC said in a statement.
In 2020, Cecyl Esau was granted the Freedom of Worcester award to acknowledge his contribution to the rights of freedom and justice.
An intimate, private ceremony will be held for immediate family members. Esau was a member of the African Methodist Church and will be cremated according to his wish. A drive-by memorial will take place on Friday, 26 March at the Mylne Street family home in Worcester.
The Special Provincial Official Category 2 memorial service will take place on Saturday, 27 March at the Worcester Town Hall and will be live-streamed via UWC’s Facebook and YouTube accounts.
The Presidency notes that the South African Police Service will be responsible for providing ceremonial elements and that the National Flag will be half-masted throughout the province on the day of the funeral.