The office of the chief whip of the African National Congress (ANC) on Monday paid tribute to MP Trevor Bonhomme, who died on Saturday after a long illness.
In a statement, the chief whip’s office said the ruling ANC in Parliament was “deeply saddened to lose a comrade of Cde Bonhomme’s calibre”.
It described him as “a warrior for social justice and a humble people’s servant”.
Bonhomme, who was deployed from KwaZulu-Natal, died at the age of 75. He served on the Portfolio Committees on Environmental Affairs and Scopa as a full and alternate member respectively, from the commencement of the 5th term of Parliament until his illness prevented him from traveling.
The statement said Bonhomme’s political journey began at the age of just seven when he was thrown off a bus for asking why he could not sit on the “white” seats.
“His first protest as an adult was in 1973 when he protested against the American singer Eartha Kitt’s visit to South Africa,” the statement added. “In the late 1970s, he and his brother, Virgile Bonhomme led a Natal-wide furniture workers strike against appalling low wages. The consequence of which led to him being blacklisted and unable to find employment opportunities in Durban.
“In 1980 comrade Bonhomme helped to launch the Durban Housing Action Committee campaigning for tenants’ rights across the racial divide. Thereafter, he went on to become a founding member of the United Committee for Concern and the United Democratic Front in Natal.”
In 1989, days before he was to lead 10,000 protesters for a protest swim at a whites only beach in Durban, he was arrested and imprisoned. He spent two months in prison and was released under restriction. After the unbanning of the ANC in 1990, he formally joined the party and served in various capacities within local government.
He was first deployed to the National Assembly as a Member of Parliament in 2006. In 2013, his attendance in the National Assembly was at 94%. He became ill in 2014 and his attendance dropped thereafter due to his ailing health, the statement added.