Slain University of the Free State student, Philela Gilwa, has been laid to rest in Queenstown.
Gilwa died on 15 July 2017 after he was stabbed in Town 2, Khayelitsha. Gilwa had left Kilombo Village, where he had been staying to rescue his friend who had been involved in an altercation. Upon leaving the place of conflict, he together with two of his friends were chased by seven knife-wielding men. He died upon arrival at Khayelitsha District Hospital.
Gilwa stayed in Kilombo Village in Khayelitsha from April after he had been suspended at UFS for 9 months his involvement in the burning of CR Swart’s statue at the university and the Varsity Cup Shimlas Park incident where black and white came to blows after Fees Must Fall activists invaded the pitch during halftime in February 2016.
Gilwa had been involved in a land occupation in Town 2, Khayelitsha.
The funeral service was held at Ezibeleni Community Hall, just a few away meters from the Gilwa home.
Speaking on his behalf of UFS students SRC president Sikhulule Luwaca described Gilwa as a leader, friend and eagle in reference to his middle name Mpikozomzi. Luwaca described Gilwa as an eagle with revolutionary vision, who could foresee danger in political struggles he was involved in but his love for black people never stopped him from soldiering on.
Speaking on behalf of Fees Must Fall, Sakhi Dlala described Philela as a softly spoken and very humble leader who led from the back and a leader who was not shy to lead when conditions dictated so.
Former church leader. pastor Xola Skosana under whom Philela had been staying in Kilombo Village said the death of Gilwa should implicate those upon whom South African state symbols represent. Without mentioning race, Skosana alluded to the implication of whiteness in Philela’s death. Holding the South African flag dipped in paraffin, Skosana said the flag, constitution and the national anthem represent the interests of white people. Skosana described South African Townships as hell created by white people for black to kill each other. Skosana is currently on a national tour where he will traverse the country raising awareness on his political campaign culminating by on the 3rd of August where he will burn the South African flag and Constitution in protest of his rejection of South Africa as a political establishment.
Zinathi Salityi, Gilwa’s younger sister, read a poem in tribute to his brother. Gilwa’s father Ntsikelelo Salityi described Gilwa as s child who showed great leadership qualities from a very young age. Salityi said, ‘I am grateful that my son died in the struggle fighting for a better tomorrow for others’.
Gilwa was laid to rest at the Queenstown Cemetery. His killer is still at large.
Rest in power Bhele, Khuboni, Langa lokulunga.