SADTU statement on the passing of the General Secretary of the South African Municipal Workers Union

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) has received with great shock and sadness the reports about the passing on of the General Secretary of the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU), Cde Koena Wilson Ramotlou on the 2nd of January 2021. This happens just after he was elected as the General Secretary at  SAMWU’s 12th National Congress last month and hardly a week after we lost the sitting General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

The untimely passing on of Cde Koena captures the difficult moment that we are currently going through as workers in both the public and private sectors. The employers and owners of the means of production are currently consolidating their gains and mounting an unprecedented attack on basic worker rights like collective bargaining.

History has it on record that Cde Koena was a dedicated champion and advocate for the recognition and respect of worker rights across all sectors. We bore witness to how he stood in the forefront of SAMWU’s fight against the corruption in municipalities that even led to workers’ safety being compromised as we were collectively pushing back against the devastating socio-economic effects of the pandemic.

Affectionately known as “Kolobe”, Cde Koena was a firm believer in a capable developmental state that would have the required capacity and resources to deliver quality services to the poor masses of our country. We thus view his passing on as a significant dent to our collective agenda as COSATU affiliates to help our country to attain the developmental goals as set in the National Developmental Plan.

Cde Koena’s untimely demise comes at a time when SAMWU was well on its way towards regaining the stability and militancy that had led to it being amongst the leading affiliates of the Federation quantitatively and qualitatively. It is due to Cde Koena’s tireless efforts, amongst others, over the past few years that we saw SAMWU undergoing a rigorous organisational renewal process under trying conditions and emerging victorious as witnessed at its 12th National Congress.

In his memory, SADTU is calling on all our sister affiliates within the Federation to intensify our campaign to defend collective bargaining across all sectors as profoundly resolved in the recent COSATU Collective Bargaining Conference. Cde Koena mounted a Herculian effort towards rebuilding SAMWU so that consequently, COSATU could cement its position as the largest federation in the country and a reliable shield for the workers. We thus owe it to his memory, as a federation, to ensure that our unity as affiliates remains sacrosanct and jealously protected at all times.

We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, the entire membership of SAMWU and the broader mass democratic movement which he served ever so gallantly.

Re re robala ka khutsho Kolobe!!!!

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat


General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968

Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651

Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157