Emotions run high at memorial for Ningi
About 300 people, most dressed in ANC regalia and a few in workmen’s reflective jackets and hard hats, gathered at the Lillian Ngoyi Community Sports Centre in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday night for a memorial service for slain SMME contractor and Black Business Caucus co-ordinator Baba Ningi.
The mourners danced and sang struggle songs to commemorate, Ningi, who was described as people’s person.
There was a heavy police presence, with officers keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings as scores of mourners entered and exited the community centre in Kwazakhele.
Ningi, 48, was gunned down outside a Zwide butchery on January 28 in an attack police are investigating for possible links to a municipal drain-cleaning tender.
He was one of a number of people murdered in the city recently in what police suspect is a killing spree linked to infighting by SMMEs.
His body was found in Koyana Street outside the Lifa and Mafa Butchery.
There have been no arrests yet in connection with his death.
Ningi was a prominent figure among the SMMEs which have made several disruptive and forceful attempts to secure local government projects and other mega projects, such as the R11bn BAIC vehicle plant in the Coega Industrial Development Zone.
Family, friends and members of the Bay SMMEs were present at the service, but it was ANC councillor Andile Lungisa who attracted the lion’s share of the attention as he entered the hall, with shouts of “Ace!”, “Ace!” echoing inside.
Lungisa spoke fondly of Ningi as a young business owner who was keen to empower and share with other emerging businesses.
“We are talking about someone we all know,” he said.
“We will carry on with empowering the people in Baba’s name.
“We will isolate those who do bad things among us.
“We are not going to deviate from empowering our communities.
“Let us work together and forge ahead together,” Lungisa said.
He also undertook to look after Ningi’s family.
“We are happy you [lent] us your son who worked for the nation,” Lungisa said.
“We commit ourselves to help this family. We won’t forget you.”
The crowd inside started to walk out and the number dwindled rapidly immediately after Lungisa finished his speech.
By the time the preacher took to the podium, only a small number were left in the hall.
Some family members took exception to the presence of journalists at the service.
One woman snatched programmes from the hands of reporters, saying they were not welcome at the event.