Former Johannesburg State Attorney, Tswaledi Webster Sekwati, was laid to rest at Mohlaletsi village in Sekhukhune land on Saturday, 14 September 2019. It was an emotional ceremony as speaker after speaker described how the former state lawyer had touched the lives of many who came into contact with him. The funeral service was attended by dignitaries from all over the country including his long-time friend, former minister of Justice and Correctinal Service, Adv Michael Masutha, his colleagues from the office of the State Attorney and Acting King KK Sekhukhune of the Bapedi kingdom.
Mr Sekwati was killed by a minibus taxi in downtown Johannesburg on 09 September 2019 while crossing Pritchard street from his office to the South Gauteng High Court to attend to a case that was due to be heard that morning. According to Johannesburg Metro Police Department spokesman, Wayne Minnaar, the driver of the taxi was taken in for questioning and would be charged with culpable homicide.
Mr Sekwati was addressed by many of the speakers at the ceremony by his clan name, Dimo ‘a Hlabirwa, signifying his royal ancestry. King Sekwati, (1775-1861) is the father of King Sekhukhune 1 (Matsebe Sekhukhune:1814-1882), who succesfully defended the Bapedi Kingdom against the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (the ZAR) and the British in the second half of the 1800s. He managed to do so because he was able to buy weapons from the Portuguese in Delagoa Bay using earnings brought home by young pedi men from the diamond fields in Kimberley.
The Bapedi have been locked in a dispute for the control of the kingdom between acting King KK Sekhukhune and his half brother, Rhyne Thulare since 1976. Rhyne died in 2006 before the dispute could be resolved. His son, Thulare Victor Thulare, inherited the disputed leadership from Rhyne and the dispute continues between Thulare Victor Thulare, also known as Sekhukhune 111 and his uncle Kgasudi Kenneth Sekhukhune. The High Court in Pretoria has decided that Thulare was the rightful king of the Bapedi, a decision against which KK has appealed.
Sekwati was partially blind but despite his disability, he completed his Matric at Siloe School for the Blind in 1985 and enrolled for a B Iuris degree at the University of the North outside the then Pietersburg in 1986. He completed this degree in record time in 1989 and registered for an LLB degree at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in 1990 completing it in 1991. He went on to serve his articles of clerkship at the Legal Resources Centre in Johannesburg from 1992 to 1993. He was admitted as an attorney of the High Court of South Africa early in 1994.
He first practised for his own account under the name and style of TW Sekwati Attorneys in Johannesburg. Later on, he joined the State Attorney in Johannesburg. He worked for a few years there and then moved to Pretoria to become advisor to the then Minister of Justice and Correctional Service, Adv Michael Masutha. He returned to the State Attorney in 2017 where he was working at the time of his untimely death.
While at the University of the North, he studied German as a language and was a fond German speaker. He often preferred to be called by his German nickname, Herr Grossman. I met him in Braamfontein on a Thursday afternoon about four days before he died. Although he was in a happy mood, he was very much concerned about his life and worried that the speeding vehicles are going to kill him. We spent sometimes that evening at the Saratosa Spur Restaurant in Braamfontein. He mentioned that in February of 2020, he would have been in Johannesburg for 30 years. He said that he did not want his friends to die before him as he did not want to be left alone with unpleasant characters. Later that evening he took an Uber taxi to his home in Struben’s valley in Roodepoort. He called to confirm that he arrived safely. He called again on the Friday morning at 7am and said that he was already at work. The last call he made was at 9pm that evening to confirm that we were travelling very well to Phalaborwa. That was the last time I heard from him as on Monday morning news began to spread that he was killed by a speeding taxi in front of the Johannesburg High Court.