FOR once, there was peace between journalists and politicians as they gathered to say goodbye to Xolani Gwala yesterday.

His memorial service at Grace House Family Church in Randburg, Joburg, even brought together rival union federations, Cosatu and Saftu.

Reverend Mzwandile Molo of the South African Council of Churches thanked Xolani’s wife, Peggy-Sue Khumalo for walking alongside her husband until his last hours.

“You gave him medication of the soul, which nobody else could’ve given him. Thank you for the love you gave him in the most difficult time.”

Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said when she heard Xolani wanted to interview her over a scandal in the Eastern Cape, she was so scared she almost ran away.

“He told me I had forgotten I was a minister. He said I must remember when I go to the bathroom, restaurant or anywhere I was a minister and under scrutiny,” she said. “But this approach showed me he was not out to destroy me. He was only doing his job, which he did with passion.”

Xolani’s brother, Mdu, said when he visited the family home in KwaNovuka in Impendle, KZN, he was just a normal child. “He was very close to our mother. Their conversation was always like that of brother and sister. He was such a hero to people down there. They don’t believe he’s gone.”

Among the famous faces at the service were Minister Fikile Mbalula, deputy minister Zizi Kodwa, Zwelinzima Vavi, former minister Tokyo Sexwale and businesswoman Basetsana Kumalo.

Gwala will be buried in KwaNovuka tomorrow.