21 June 2018
It was with great sadness that the Thabo Mbeki Foundation heard the news that 87-year-old Ambassador Billy Modise passed away yesterday, June 20, 2018.
His departure means that as South Africans we have lost an outstanding patriot who worked continuously for many decades to advance the interests of our people, never seeking personal benefit or public acclaim.
During the few weeks of his illness, our Patron, President Thabo Mbeki, and other leaders of our Foundation regularly visited Ambassador Modise and maintained contact with his dear family confident that he would return to good health.
To salute the late Ambassador, we post on our websites a Tribute to Ambassador Billy Modise which was written by the then President of the Republic, Thabo Mbeki, our Patron, and published in 2006 when the Ambassador retired from public service having reached the age of 75 years.
As a Foundation we fully associate ourselves with that Tribute and therefore salute the late Ambassador Modise for the important contributions he made in the struggle to defeat the apartheid system, in the continuing historic effort to build a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa, and in the strengthening of friendly relations between ourselves and the peoples of the world, including those of Sweden and Namibia.
In the period since President Mbeki delivered his 2006 Tribute, there came other developments involving Ambassador Modise which we must mention.
In 2007 Ambassador Modise joined the Board of Trustees of ACCORD, the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes. This brought this African patriot directly into the important work of the peaceful resolution of the conflicts which continue to afflict Africa.
In 2008 our Government conferred on him the Order of Luthuli in Silver.
The citation read out at the Award Ceremony pointed to the sterling contribution Ambassador Modise had made to our country’s national liberation struggle and the building of a democratic society.
This, according to the Protocols of the National Orders, gives him the esteemed title – Honoured Member of the Order of Luthuli!
Last year, in 2017, Ms Cecilia Julin, Ambassador of Sweden to South Africa, conferred on Ambassador Modise the Swedish Order of the Polar Star, which is bestowed by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.
The (Swedish) Order of the Polar Star, created in 1748, is only awarded to members of the Royal Family and Foreign Nationals, and was awarded to Ambassador Modise for his truly outstanding contribution to an indelible process which has led to very strong relations of friendship and cooperation between the peoples of Sweden and South Africa.
It was in honest acknowledgement of the imprint Ambassador Billy Modise has left on so much of what is positive about the evolution of our country that the respective Governments of South Africa and Sweden took the correct and solemn decisions to award him the esteemed Orders of Luthuli and the Polar Star!
We convey our sincere condolences to our dear sister, Ambassador Modise’s dear wife, Sis’ Yolisa, and the rest of the Modise family, and stand by them at this moment of grief.
May our esteemed leader and friend, the true patriot, Ambassador Billy Modise, rest in peace.
For any enquiries, please contact:
Mr Thami Ntenteni
Head of Communications
Tel: 011 486 1560
Mobile: 083 256 3586
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